It’s the end of summer, and fall is approaching. For parents and kids, this time of year always heralds the return to school and a more structured schedule. But you don’t have to be a kid—or have a kid—to get that back-to-school feeling: new pencils, new friends, new endeavors.
For me, September feels like a new start far more than the New Year. There’s less pressure to manage resolutions, completely overhaul my life in every way, or live up to some kind of ideal that may not fit me properly. I’m not constantly being told to alter myself. It’s so much nicer to change things up on my terms.
If you and your writing practice need a fresh start, embrace the promise of September and a new school year with these tricks.
Get your school supplies
Writers can never have enough pens, pencils, notebooks, folders, highlighters, and more. There’s no better time of year to get everything you need—it’s all on sale, and you can choose from all kinds of neato colors, textures, sizes, and quantities. New supplies can make work feel more shiny and fun, and that will come out in your writing. And being a bit more organized can inspire not only your writing but also your home life and social engagements. Never underestimate the motivation and ideas a sweet new pen and deliciously empty notebook can provide.
Upgrade your wardrobe
For most kids, a new school year means new clothes—why should writers be any different? When you look down at your writing “uniform,” what are the chances that you’re wearing something worn out and/or too embarrassing to be seen in? Yes, being comfortable is so important for getting those creative juices flowing. Fortunately, September is a great time of year to stock up on cozy writing couture—especially if you live in a colder climate and have finally realized that by the time it’s cold enough to merit polar fleece leggings, they’ll already be sold out everywhere.
Set a new daily schedule
Summer is a time of leisure. Perhaps you’ve gotten into the habit of writing—and waking up—much, much later than you should. Take stock of your habits and your lifestyle and decide whether you can make improvements that will benefit both you and your writing. Whether it’s skipping lunch, jumping from the bed straight to the desk, or spending too much time indoors, your particular bad habit is just begging to be shuffled off.
Plan out your workload
Look over your new schedule and set some writing goals for yourself for the “school year”—or, if you’re overwhelmed, just for the fall term. Start by setting deadlines and planning out any marketing or promotional strategies for your next project. Check editorial calendars for writing contest due dates, and make a goal to submit to one or two. If you’re working on essays or nonfiction, think about new topics for upcoming seasons or holidays. Writing fiction? Check out where you can publish some of your new work, or promote your published work anew with a fresh angle.
Check your electronics
As writers, we rely on our phones and computers to compose our masterpieces. September is a time to give your electronics a check-up. Ensure everything is working well, you’ve backed up your files, and your beloved computer (as well as peripherals) is in good shape—and set up in such a way as to be ergonomic and comfortable for your shoulders, wrists, back, and neck.
Play hooky for a few days
Take a few days off from your normal routine to rest and enjoy the last lingering days of summer. Take a day trip or even plan an overnight escape. For those who write from home full-time, or for those looking to kick-start a new part-time writing regimen, this can be the best time of year to recharge while everyone else is back to school and work.
Plan a “reading week” for midterm
Known also as a “reading period,” many colleges and universities give students a week off in the middle of the term to catch up on their reading. What writer wouldn’t benefit from this same practice? Find some new books you’re excited about, or make a selection from your to-read stash/pile/bookshelf/room. A week of reading for pleasure, getting inspired, and supporting new indie authors might be just the thing to rejuvenate you after a hard-working term of getting back to writing.