While the undergraduates have gone home for the summer – to holidays and summer jobs – it seems research students see the summer as an opportunity to make new habits and meet ambitious writing goals.
In the same week as Phdforum launched its virtual writing retreat, the sociologists on campus went on a physical retreat and although I didn’t participate in either it’s been interesting to see the ripples from both activities.
According to their website, the Phdforum virtual retreat was so successful they are going to open the virtual doors in the first week of each month.
It also seems like the sociologists had a very productive two-day retreat. I’ve bumped into folk around town who are still writing for three sessions a day and another has set up a facebook group to keep up the momentum.
The facebook group is an interesting space: through the day people announce their writing intentions, invite others to join them, and report their progress. I wasn’t on the original retreat, but having been invited to join the facebook group and feeling that my summer writing goals were somewhat ambitious I found myself responding to a call for a 5:30am writing partner.
Now, it may seem odd to write at such an early hour, but for my writing partner it is the time before her children awake, and for me it harks back to earlier days as a part-time law student with a busy job and passionate volunteer commitments. Then getting up to study for a couple of hours each morning before leaving for work, meant it didn’t matter what craziness happened in either my paid or volunteer activities, or how exhausted or busy they kept me – I had done my study for the day.
For me life is simpler these days, I’m still a passionate volunteer, but I’m in the lucky position where being a Phd student is my job. However, I’ve still found writing without a hard deadline difficult to do.
Therefore, I’m writing for an hour at 5:30am each weekday morning. Knowing the first thing I’ll do each morning is write. It will very rarely clash with anything else, and I’ll start each day having put words on the page. And it is surely easier to edit a page, than to look at a blank one.
Plus if I can make this early morning writing a habit over summer, then 5:30am is early enough that even after term resumes it’s early enough that it will still fit before teaching or meetings and should be able to become a long-term habit.
Even after just a few sessions, the mix of repeated action, and accountability to my partner meant that even though the alarm clock failed to go off this morning, I still woke up and was ready to write at 5:30am.
Plus I’m excited about writing each morning!
What strategies are you using to write over summer?