Back To School

Back to school backpack and shoesBack to school is the time of year parents rejoice and children cry. That the same event can cause such different reactions in two separate groups is a lesson in point of view, but that is a topic for another blog. While children view school as 10 months of incarceration, parents see freedom.

Back to school restores routine and sanity to parental lives. Children no longer need 24/7 care—even when kids are old enough to entertain themselves for a few hours a day, there are still summer camps, activities, and play dates to fill the calendar. Summer writing becomes a haphazard affair—I have written at swim practice, karate, even in the car waiting. Back to school means more concentrated writing time.

Sure September can be crazy because you have to start juggling the after school activities plus the homework plus activities such as the Book Fair and Back To School Nights and Open House and PTA volunteering, but those of us who work from home get about 6 splendid hours a day to do the things we need to do.

Already my writing in September has been much better than my summer. My worst month of the writing year so far has been July. In July my word count was 11,700. August wasn’t much better at 11,900. We’re only about halfway through the month of September—school started less than 2 weeks ago—and already I have passed both July and August with a grand total of 13,600 words. Things are looking up.

For all that back to school can be an adjustment, the routine is key for me. If I get it right, a routine makes me crazy efficient. This week I had one day where I revised 3,300 words (3 chapters). In one day I did 28% of the total I had for either July or August. Color me happy!

The concentrated writing time makes a big difference for me. Yes, I can jot down words at a swim practice, copy edit, write a blog post, read the blogs I follow, but to get deep into the voice and character of the story or to revise on a large scale I find I need a block of time. Time to fall into the story world and give my full focus to it. That sort of time is rare in the summer.

Summer is a wonderful time to spend with your family. I wouldn’t pass up the memories we made or the experiences we had for anything. But getting back to a routine that gives me time to write alleviates the pressure I’ve felt all summer—that tug of war between feeling I was neglecting my kid or feeling I was neglecting my writing (which is also neglecting myself).

So here’s to back to school! It has its own set of challenges, but for those of us who are parents and writers, it’s the time when we start to feel a little bit more like ourselves.

Happy back to school (and back to writing)!




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