You probably think of summer as the easiest time of year to focus on research and writing. You’ve probably been looking forward to it for months because of that. So why would you want to join the Studio?
I have certainly noticed that there are fewer people in the summer than in the autumn. Some people who attend A Meeting With Your Writing regularly during the main part of the year find they don’t need the kind of support in the summer. If you have a good summer writing routine and are also able to take a proper vacation and work in a restful way so that you are much less tired by the time the new academic year starts, keep doing what you are doing. We’ll still be here in the autumn to help you keep up your writing practice.
However, I’ve also noticed that some people join the Studio at the beginning of their sabbatical, which is a bit like summer in that research and writing is your primary activity. And some members only come in summer and during sabbatical and drop back to Foundations membership when they are teaching.
Just enough structure
Structure can seem limiting. Certainly the structure provided by teaching and other regular commitments limits the amount of time and attention you can give to your research in ways that are not always helpful. And yet, when faced with a period with practically no external structure at all, you might feel unmoored. It’s not uncommon to fritter away a good chunk of your day because there is no urgency to get started. The Studio provides you with a way to structure your week while still leaving you lots of flexibility.
Attending A Meeting With Your Writing on Monday makes sure you get started. You can enjoy your summer weekends with family and friends (or lying around enjoying the good weather and a good book) and know that you have a nudge to get back into your research on Monday. Once you’ve started it’s much easier to keep going. And there is another Meeting With Your Writing on Thursday if you need a bit of a boost later in the week.
Knowing you have the group and the structure of synchronous meetings also helps you take time off over the summer. Weekends but also proper holidays. Your gremlins can be very persuasive about the dangers of going away on holiday without your laptop or any of the reading you need to do for your projects or teaching. They are very worried that if you really took time completely off to relax, play, read things that have nothing to do with your work, and generally enjoy yourself, that you’d never go back to work again. The Studio helps you make that transition back after your holiday which makes it that little bit easier to really let go.
If you would like more connection and support, there is a members-only forum where you can check in regularly and monthly Office Hours (though I don’t hold those when I take my vacation).
Making realistic plans
The Studio isn’t just about getting writing done. The logo is a juggler because a big part of the Studio is supporting you in making more realistic plans. If you’ve not been able to maintain a writing practice during the main part of the academic year, it can be really hard not to overplan your summer. Like the apocryphal traveller in the desert spotting an oasis, you are so thirsty for writing and thinking time you just want to do all the things.
The Planning Your Summer class in May will help you make realistic plans that include rest. I’ve also produced a couple of PDF worksheets to help reassure your gremlins that you will be ready for the new academic year even if you spend significant chunks of the summer not thinking about teaching at all. Then in August or September, the Planning Your Autumn Semester class will help you figure out how you can maintain some kind of writing practice through the year so you aren’t quite so figuratively thirsty by this time next year. (for more on my approach to planning see Juggling 101: elements of a good plan)
The structure of A Meeting With Your Writing also helps you get better at planning your writing projects. You will develop a better sense of what you can do in 90 minutes and how much that varies. You will learn more about what affects your focus and what strategies help you optimize your focus so you can make good use of the time you have.
Summer is a good time to establish new habits
A sustainable writing practice takes a while to establish. One good reason to join the Studio in the summer is because you have more capacity to work on establishing new habits. You are juggling fewer balls in the summer. There are fewer things to derail new practices and more opportunities to pick yourself up and get back on track.
You also have more time to breathe. You have time and cognitive capacity to reflect on how things are going and make decisions to tweak things.
Joining the Studio in the summer can allow you to establish a habit of attending one Meeting With Your Writing a week that you then want to continue when teaching starts again.