Lazy days under a tree, listening to the birds chirping overhead while romantically plugging away on the Great American Novel. While that may be the dream of some, without a plan it's only a dream, and without commitment no writing project really gets off the ground. So this summer, treat yourself to the gift of a writing project. Pick one and stick with it all summer long, and you'll thank yourself come fall.
Once you're ready to say yes to practicing your voice, here are 12 summer writing projects to put you back in charge of your story.
1. Non-Fiction Book Proposal
If you've already written the proposal, then by all means, write the book. But if you think you can write that non-fiction book "free hand" I highly recommend you reconsider. Agents and editors love to have a hand in crafting your final project. A summer spent organizing your thoughts in the form of a proposal sets you up for success, and while it's not an easy task, it can feel easier than writing the actual book. Perfect for those lazy summer afternoons with wine and a laptop.
2. Short Story
Why, yes, it could take an entire summer to write a single short story. Those suckers are tricky. You've got to pack an entire novel's worth of backstory, emotion, and drama into a condensed space. That said, the story is still a short so you can easily draft, edit, edit again, and edit a few more times, to end the summer with a beautifully structured and polished story. Maybe yours will center on some classic summer moment, like that time someone's baby pooped in the pool.
A typical movie script is only 7,500 - 20,000 words. If you've got a story in your head, I guaranteed you can knock that out in a summer. And think about all those wonderful tidbits of dialogue you'll overhear at the pool and on the patio. Grab a few colorful characters and put them in car together, or a camping trip, or a pool party. You'll think of something. And then spend your summer translating life into art.
Which summers shaped you? Use this season to access defining moments through the sights, sounds, and smells of summer. Whether you use this project to fill in gaps in an existing memoir, or simply fill a notebook with starter material, you'll have an easier time recalling concrete details of the season while you're in it. Baby oil, iodine, and Tab are optional.
Write a platform? WTF does that mean? It means get your story straight, decide which pieces reinforce the work you want to do in the world, and polish it up real nice so you can get out there and be the change. Whether you're running for office, starting a movement, or teaching people the joy of missing out--you're going to need a platform. Craft it this summer and you'll be ready to launch something significant this fall, just in time for Back to School season!
I don't know many writers who don't dream of writing a novel. I've written two. The first was not terribly sensical. The second I liked a lot. It was fun and had some hilarious scenes, but it didn't tell a strong enough story. I might be trying again. But this time, I'll spend the entire summer planning and plotting, so that when I sit down to write in the fall, I know I'm building a story that serves.
7. ABC Project
Want to write but not sure what to write? An ABC project is one of my favorite ways to put the Muse on notice. In 26 sessions, guided only by the letters of the alphabet, you'll go places you never would have expected. A is for the apple tree you played house under as a child. B is for the first time you watched a James Bond movie. C is for the clove cigarettes that made you feel cool at the underage dance club, and at the regular club where you were simply underage.
Summer is the perfect time to tackle a copywriting project. Write those webpages one at a time while soaking in the sun, or knock out your sales funnel while sipping coffee on sunny mornings before your day really begins. Build a powerful inventory of words and phrases to build your cohesive brand.
9. Content Strategy
Spend the summer mapping out what you want to say, why it's important, and how to find the through line that connects all your work. Having a content strategy provides focus to your work and ensures that you stay on topic. This is an ideal project for bloggers, freelance writers who produce on spec, and entrepreneurs who hope to develop their skills and experience into new business.
10. Keynote Speech
A single killer keynote can launch a cottage industry or solidify your expertise in the minds of an audience. While a keynote should always be unique to the audience and occasion, elements of a KILLER keynote can be used over and over again to craft other speeches quickly. Best of all, the killerest keynote always weaves in pieces of your deepest authentic stories, so no matter what stage you're on--you'll feel like you.
11. Stage Play
This one feels so intimidating to me, but I know people who have written stage plays, so I absolutely know it's possible. If multiple characters and blocking feel overwhelming, think about a one-woman show. What story could you tell that's compelling enough to hold an audience's attention for an hour? Start writing now, and by the end of summer you'll know if your story has legs.
I might have saved the best for last. Naturally, this is my favorite. I spent several summers scribbling away on what would become my first three books. The beauty of essays is that you can sell them one-off to SO MANY MARKETS, and then as long as you retain the rights, you can publish them in a book (or multiple books!), use them that one-woman show, or simply sell them reprint style, over and over again.
Ready to commit to a summer of writing? Kick off the season with a morning of writing, planning, and maybe most important--DECIDING to write this summer.
Master the Muse is three hours of dedicated exploration and motivation, for anyone who wants to control the story. Students will leave with a 12-week Muse Buster plan to ensure the success of any summer writing project, and put you back in charge of your story.
Click here to Master the Muse!