Rachel McLean

– Thrillers That Make You Think

Summer is Made for Writing: Yes or No?

I don’t know about you, but I always start the summer thinking about all the lovely free time I’ll have over the coming months. Free time that’s perfect for reading – and for writing.

And then I realize that finding time to write in the summer is actually harder than at other times of year.

In theory, I should have loads of free time – I always take August off from my day job to be able to spend time with my kids while they’re off school. And as they get older, they want to spend less time with me, and more time hanging out with their friends or hunkered down in their rooms playing games, watching tv or (if I’m lucky) reading.

All of which gives me a clear month to write. Right?


Concentrating on a novel is one of the most challenging aspects of writing. Occasionally I get lucky and find that the story grabs me so effectively that I have no problem focusing, and can write anywhere. This happened to me a few years ago on a family holiday in Turkey and it was wonderful: I thought I’d started a tradition for myself. But when I tried the same thing again in France last year, it bombed.

Maybe it was because last year I was editing, whereas in Turkey I was on the first draft (of Thicker Than Water). Maybe it was because back in the days I wrote that first novel, I had no deadlines and felt no pressure to get it finished before flying home (I didn’t, but I did manage 20,000 handwritten words in 10 days). Or maybe it was because the hotel in Turkey had a cat sanctuary which kept my kids engrossed for hours on end.

But what I do know is that I’m not going into this summer expecting to write an entire novel, or even edit one. Instead, I’m going to be reading through a couple of novels I wrote last year with a view to pulling them into shape, and then working on the next draft in September.

Maybe I’ll meet my (admittedly modest) goal, maybe I won’t. I have plenty of other things to juggle this summer: a family wedding which takes us away from home for a week, moving house and my son going to a week-long cookery school (which in theory would balance out the time-in-vs-time-out equation but in reality means snatching time with his big brother while he’s away).

Oh yes, and I’ve got a book coming out on 2 August too – while we’re away for the wedding. Which will be challenging, as it would be rude of me to be checking sales figures every five minutes!

In the meantime, it means that this blog probably won’t get updated as often as usual. I plan to do plenty of reading and will try to post some book reviews. But who knows, I may just get sucked into reading the next book in the TBR pile (or into whatever my kids drag me off to do), and not find the time.

And you know what? I don’t mind. I’m always aware of the next book deadline. But this year, I’ve told my editor not to expect anything from me until the end of September. My kids aren’t getting any younger and I’m looking forward to spending the summer with them. After all, that’s what summer’s really for.

So I hope you have a fabulous summer filled with wonderful books. I’ll be in touch when One Of Us comes out but other than that, the only guarantee is that I’ll see you in September.

Posted in Writing
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