Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An End and a Beginning, for Teachers and Writers

Here in the United States, the school year is drawing to a close. Around this time last year, we received an Ask the TeachingAuthors question about end-of-the-school-year writing activities. Unfortunately, we weren't able to address the question in time. To make up for that, we'll be providing a series of end-of-the-year Writing Workouts this week and next. If you're a teacher, you'll find the first below.

If you're a writer, this may be the time to look ahead and think about how summer will affect your writing schedule. Summer is a very productive time for some writers. Many of my adult students are teachers and librarians who look forward to summer vacation as a time to catch up on their writing.

Not for me. Maintaining my writing routine during the summer months is often a challenge. When my son was young, the challenge was not to let my writing interfere with his summer activities, and vice versa. Now that he's grown up, that's no longer an issue. But teaching has become one of my summer activities. I teach several week-long writing camps for young writers, along with adult classes. I love teaching, and I'm always revising and fine-tuning my camps to keep them fresh and fun for my young students. That takes creative energy, as well as time. I'm not complaining. It's just something I need to allow for when I set my summer writing goals. 

I'd love to know how other writers deal with this seasonal transition. Will the end of the school year affect your writing schedule? Does taking a vacation refresh you as a writer or do you feel you've lost your momentum and have to start over? Do you have any tips on staying creative during the lazy, hazy days of summer?  Please share your ideas via our comments.

And don't forget: today is the last day to enter our giveaway drawing for an autographed copy of April Pulley Sayre's picture book Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! See JoAnn's last post for details.

Blogosphere buzz:
Writing Workout
End-of-the-school-year activities

I found a helpful list of ten end-of-the-year story starters on the abcteach website. These all involve looking back on the past school year. But we can also invite students to write creatively about the future. Here are two writing ideas you can use for your students (or yourself):
  1. Create a 5 x 7" postcard from your fantasy vacation destination. On one side, draw a picture of the fun activities you're enjoying on your vacation. On the other side, write a description of your amazing vacation. 
  2. Write a letter to yourself that begins: Next fall, one thing that will be different is . . .  If this is for your students, you can have them bring in self-addressed stamped envelopes for their letters. Then be sure to place the letters in the mail on the first day of fall, which is September 22 this year. If the letter is for yourself, attach it to the September page of your calendar, and don't read it until then.
April and Jeanne Marie will share additional end-of-year Writing Workouts in their upcoming posts. If you have an activity that works well with your student, please share it by posting a comment below.

Happy Writing!


Michelle Sussman said...

Both of my kids are home. Neither is good at amusing themselves for more than 15 minutes. I have almost no time to write, which is why I'm pushing myself to finish the 1st draft of my WIP before school is out. :-)

Carol Grannick said...

My one and only just graduated and will be staying in his "college town", so this summer will be different for me. Interestingly, I'm setting aside my current w-i-p for the summer, and will focus on several shorter writing projects...and probably take a little more time to read in the beautiful outdoors.

Scotti Cohn said...

I am embarrassed to say that I have just as much time (a lot) to write in the summer as any other time of year -- and I still produce far fewer manuscripts than I could or *should*. I'm way too relaxed about it!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

I'm with you, Carmela, in the group of writers who struggle to fit writing into a busy summer filled with family activities, teaching, and the urge to spend as much time outside as possible. To cope with multiple distractions, I try to carry a notebook & pen wherever I go & keep track of every idea that hops or flutters by!

Carmela Martino said...

JoAnn, I like your notebook & pen idea. Sometimes we need to fill the well.
Scotti and Carol, I think a break, or at least a change, can be a good idea. So don't "should" yourself too much, Scotti.
Michelle, good for you for pushing yourself to finish. That manuscript can cool while you enjoy your kids and your summer.
Thanks, everyone, for taking time to comment.

Sara F. Shacter said...

As a former teacher, I love the fact that you're providing such great end-of-the-year food for thought!

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Sara!