Some of us authors are lucky enough to have some extra time for writing over the summer.
Whether you’re taking a summer break from college, have some time off work, or are just making the most of the brighter mornings and later evenings, summer is certainly a great time to write.
But what should you write about?
If you’re midway through a project such as a novel or nonfiction book, summer is the ideal time to make serious progress on your word count goal. But what if you don’t have anything to write about?
If you’re stuck for inspiration, we’ve got you covered! These seven summer writing prompts will give writers something to work on during these hotter months.
1. What’s your fondest summer memory? Why do you remember it so well?
Summer is a time a lot of us associate with some of the best things in life. We often enjoy freedom during the summer months, especially during the younger stages of our lives. Summer is a time that also lends itself to great memories of family vacations and national holidays of various types.
Try and think back to a single summer that was particularly memorable for you in a positive way. What made it so great? It could be a particular event that happened during the summer, or it could be an entire summer that is packed with good memories and fun times.
Use nonfiction writing to reflect on this particular summer memory in as much detail as possible. What made it so great? What do you feel when you look back on it? You might end up using this nonfiction writing prompt as a chapter of a full memoir or even the basis of an entire book.
2. How does summer compare to the other seasons for you? Do you look forward to it, and how do you feel when it ends?
While a lot of people enjoy the warmer months of summer, that’s by no means the case for everyone. For everyone that loves summer and anticipates it eagerly, there’s someone else who can’t wait for it to end and get back to warmer clothes and nights at home.
How do you personally feel about summer? Is it something you look forward to and enjoy or do you fall into the camp of those who can’t wait for it to end? Use this writing prompt to reflect on your personal feelings about summer and how they compare to the other seasons.
You might be surprised at what you discover! Doing this type of writing exercise can help uncover hidden memories and give you a better insight into why you feel the way you do. Writing is often the best way to challenge your assumptions and to gain an understanding of how you’ve reached the opinions you hold.
3. Has there ever been a summer that changed your life? What happened, and what impact did it have?
The very nature of summer often makes it a season that is associated with transition, change, and life-altering experiences.
Moving cities and schools, starting romances that blossom into relationships, and taking vacations that change the way you view the world are just a few examples.
You can either write this from a nonfiction personal perspective or if you’d rather take the fictional route and write about a life-changing summer from the perspective of an invented character.
Either way, write about what happened during that summer that was so pivotal, what led up to it, and why the experience or experiences you had were life-altering. Contrast the way you were before with the way you were after the change. Why did that summer, in particular, have such a lasting impact on you?
4. Imagine that summer vacation was canceled for students and workers alike. What would be the impact? Write a short story to explore this concept.
There are some things we take for granted in life. If you’re like many people, you will have gained a set of assumptions about what summer tends to look like and the type of activities that are associated with it.
But, as the pandemic showed us all, unexpected things can happen and life can be turned upside down in a heartbeat. This writing exercise allows you to explore what would happen if all your expectations about summer were turned upside down.
In this scenario, imagine some kind of event that results in the fun side of summer being canceled for everyone. This could be another pandemic, a war, some kind of natural catastrophe, or an evil dystopian government coming into power. No matter what the cause, it results in summer being effectively ruined.
Use the medium of a fictional short story to work through the implications of this. How would people be impacted? Would they comply or rebel? How would it affect your characters’ personal lives as well as the impact it would have on society as a whole?
If you enjoy this fictional writing exercise, you might want to expand your dystopian summer short story into a fuller work of fiction such as a novella or a complete novel.
5. Picture what it would be like to spend summer on the other side of the globe, so if you’re in America or Europe you would have summer in your usual winter months. How would you feel about that? What would be different?
Most of us spend our whole lives in either the global north or south, meaning that your experience of summer usually occurs in the same set of months. But for people on the other side of the world, summer occurs at a different time of year.
If you’ve had the experience of summer in both the global north and south, you can take a nonfiction approach to this exercise. Reflect on the changes you noticed and if anything was memorable about experiencing summer at a different time of year. Was it strange to celebrate familiar holidays in a different season, for example?
If you’ve only ever had one experience of summer, it’s the perfect time to flex your fiction muscles and imagine what it would be like if things were different. There are two different approaches you can take to this particular writing exercise.
The first approach is to picture summer during a different time of year from your point of view. How do you imagine you’d feel? What do you think would be different? How would you react to it? Do you imagine you’d have a preference on when summer occurs, and why would that be?
Or, if you’d rather get truly creative, stop and think about summer taking place at a different time of year for a fictional character. This could be someone sent away to work or study on the other side of the world, or someone meeting a long-distance romantic interest for the first time. What do they go through? How do they think and feel about their entirely new perspective on when summer takes place?
6. Think back to a memorable summer in your life, but imagine you made a very different decision. Explore the consequences of this decision through fiction writing
One of the most enjoyable things about creative writing is the ability to create and explore entirely new perspectives on life. While we can never turn back time in reality, fiction allows us to do exactly that, allowing us to consider the implications of if things had gone in a different direction.
Some of the most-loved fiction takes this approach. Alternative history, often seen as a subset of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, takes a look at what would happen if pivotal world events had never occurred, or had occurred very differently.
But as well as looking at things on a grand scale, you can also take this speculative writing approach to explore your own life.
Think back to a pivotal summer you experienced. This could be due to somewhere you moved to, a work or study opportunity you took, or a relationship you started.
In this exercise, you will consider what would have happened if you did things differently. What would your life be like if you never went to college, but instead traveled the world? What about if you’d dated someone different, or chose to stay single?
This is a fun and thought-provoking way of analyzing the direction your life has taken, the things that caused it to be that way, and how things might have been different if you’d gone in another direction.
7. Fast forward 10, 20, or 30 years into the future. What might have changed for the world in general and you in particular? Use fiction writing to explore a single summer from that perspective.
Just as we can use fiction to take a journey into the past and explore what might have happened if life had taken a different turn, we can do something similar while instead choosing to look ahead.
It’s natural to imagine how life might be as we grow older. We tend to think about how our relationships, career paths, and personal interests might develop. We also naturally speculate about the state of the wider world and how things will go for society at large.
Trying to think about the future, in general, can be too overwhelming and vague, so for this exercise, you will picture a single summer at a defined interval of time. One, two, or three decades are nice, round intervals of time to use, but you can use any time period you want depending on how far ahead you want to imagine.
Some of the things to think about include the type of work you’ll be doing or if you’re retired, the relationships you have and your family situation, and how you’ve changed as a person, both in terms of your appearance and your mindset.
You can also picture the wider world. What kind of government is in power, and what implications does this have? How has society changed? What kind of new tastes do people have in fashion, food, and music?
Ultimately, it’s fun to picture the different paths life might take. No matter what type of summer you’re having this year, the power of writing allows you to picture any alternative you want. You’re only limited by the power of your imagination and creativity.
Here’s to a successful summer of writing, and we hope these ideas help to inspire and guide you!