june planning · summer vacation · teacher of writing · teacher writing · writing

What Will You Write This Summer?

Around this time of year, the teachers I work with and I begin to make plans for next year. We set publishing dates, we plan our curriculum calendars, we even start pulling together mentor texts, and binders full of materials for next year’s units of study.

But we ALSO start planning for our own writing. The end of the year is when we reflect on not only how our teaching went this year, but also on our own writing.

Here are a few questions that might help you reflect on your writing life:

1. How often do you write? What would help you to write more?

2. Where and when, specifically, do you usually write? How’s that working out for you?

3. What kinds of writing do you do most? What kinds of writing do you wish you practiced more often?

4. How often do you reread and/or revise old pieces of writing? Do you make big revisions, or do you just “tweak” your original draft?

5. What is getting in the way of your writing? What do you need help with?

6. What will you write next? What are your goals for yourself as a writer?

When you set goals for yourself, they might be big, huge, long-term goals: I will write the great American Novel! Or they might be smaller, more attainable goals: I will remember to send birthday cards and thank you notes every month this year.

Whatever your goals might be, it’s important to name what your plan will be. Step-by-step, how will you work on your goal? Do you need to set up a calendar, so that you can give yourself due dates, or schedule reminders on your smartphone? Will you go online and seek out a writing critique group or a partner to keep you going and give you feedback? Will you take a class, or find an online “writing camp” or a weekly challenge (like our very own Slice of Life Challenge on Tuesdays), to give you some structure and a community to write with?

For a little inspiration, here are some examples of summer writing goals that some of my colleagues recently came up with:

1. Keep a journal. Write something, even just a few sentences every day.

2. Write down stories about your children or grandchildren to give as a gift one day when they are older.

3. Participate in the Slice of Life Story Challenge, or other online writing challenges.

4. Write to your students (incoming or outgoing, or both!). Set a goal to send a certain number of notes/postcards per week.

6. Make yourself a summer writing bucket list! Not sure what that looks like? Here’s mine!

Summer Writing Bucket List (1)

Steven King has said, “Butt glue is glueing your butt to the chair in front of the computer and not getting up until you’ve written something.”

It’s true. Glue your butt to the chair, every day, or at least once a week, and you will not only become a better writer–you’ll become a better teacher of writing.

16 thoughts on “What Will You Write This Summer?

  1. I could not agree more that teacher writing strengthens teaching of writing. This is so true for me. I’d like to invite everyone to check out the extremely generous crowd-sourced list of ideas for summer notebooking up at Sharing Our Notebooks. Inspired by teacher Kimberley Moran of iWrite in Maine, we now have over 55 posts for summer notebooking: for teachers, children, all of us. Written by young children, published authors of professional and children’s books, teachers, and others, the posts are, each one, fabulous. I am humbled and amazed to have had the chance to curate them – http://www.sharingournotebooks.amylv.com/p/summer-notebooking-try-it.html All are welcome to try out the exercises, and if you wish, share your own! Warmly, Amy


  2. I love this and had some of these same thoughts brewing in a summer something list. Good stuff. I have also started a scrapbook/art journal of sorts to help me reflect over my summer reading…nonfiction and fiction…poetry as well. This is a project I hope to implement with my 4th grade students next year.


  3. Fabulous post. Makes me think about writing more intentionally this summer. I love the idea of a bucket writing list! Thanks for the inspiration and the BIC (butt in chair) reminder which I borrowed sometime ago from Jane Yolen’s book.


  4. I recently felt like I wasn’t doing enough writing for myself so I purchased Adam J Kurtz’s 1 Page at a Time: A Daily Creative Companion. Sometimes I do more than one page a day, but it is a great journal to keep me focused and writing just a little bit for myself daily.

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    1. I kept a gratitude journal for all of 2014, which was a tough year for me. Not only did it keep me writing a tiny bit almost every day, but it was a fantastic record at the end of the year. I loved reading back through it, remembering so many bright and beautiful small moments in the midst of hard.


  5. Love the post…it got me thinking in a more organized way about what I need to do next vis a vis my personal writing. I have had some ideas in mind…but I agree that a real plan will motivate me to actually activate some of those ideas. I’ll be in the Summer Institute that “mrssokolowski ” mentions in her response, so that will give me an opportunity to write with colleagues and peers. That can be a reality check as well as being very motivational. Your flowchart for your summer writing is adorable!


  6. Thanks for pushing the personal writing that needs to happen for us if we want to grow and be authentic teachers of writing. I have to set goals and love how you put yours into a Pictochart. I may steal that idea. I will be at Highlights for the June unworkshop with Stacey. I am really hoping to have some drafts in place so that my time there will be well spent. I have done Kate Messner’s Teachers Write every year and highly recommend it. Not only the online camp, but also her 59 Reasons to Write.


  7. I am hoping to really develop more of a notebook habit. I write on my blog much more than I write in a notebook… but I constantly have things I want to jot in the notebook. Figuring out how to organize it and use it more regularly is one of my summer writing goals. Another is handwritten notes- sending more, more often. And a third is to maybe begin (I’m not even sure how or where) with a book idea. I need to think more about the how… and set some goals, or it won’t happen.
    Thank you for this post. Your tips and questions are helpful.
    And I have to ask- how did you create the summer bucket list?


    1. Hi Lisa! I find that as a grown-up it helps me to have a specific purpose for my notebooks. I have one that I write in every time we go hiking or camping, and a different one for my garden, and several others for teaching writing — I have separate information, opinion, and narrative notebooks. I also have a notebook just for writing stories and quotes from my kids! And then there’s my poetry notebook… my reading/book club notebook…


      1. Oh wow… hmmm. Thinking. Maybe I will try that. Though when one hasn’t taken off, it seems overwhelming to think of more than one. I was thinking sections- for reading, for inspiration, quotes, ideas, moments, overheard tidbits, things I see out and about…. I feel like I should chronicle my learning to keep a notebook/the journey, because it will help me know how to share with third and fourth graders and their teachers and maybe help them find ways to use notebooks that we haven’t explored yet.


  8. One of my summer writing goals is to keep up with the Tuesday slices, because they have meant so much to me, personally and as a writer, since starting the habit this spring. Thanks for the nudge towards thinking about other goals too.


  9. I love your writing goals and how you displayed them (is that an app?). I am co-facilitating our local Long Island Writing Project Summer Institute where teacher’s explore what it means to be a writer and then how do we bring that authentically to our classrooms. For me, as I continue blogging this summer, I want to think about how I go through each phase in the writing process and what type of lessons might I teach related to that. One of my summer goals is to create a scrapbook with all my son’s artwork and schoolwork from his daycare preschool. Next year is his final year of preschool but I have stacks of projects and pictures from when he started at 11 months to now. Summer goal!


      1. Thanks for sharing your writing goals! The app is called Piktochart. Don’t worry about the typos–I am the queen of editing AFTER it’s been published. Did you find the typo in my bucket list before I corrected it?

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