#DownTools as part of the SoA’s annual Summer Challenge

We’re encouraging authors to down tools and step away from their writing and illustrating desks to venture outside during 19-23 August as part of this year’s Summer Challenge.

AdobeStock_62236077-Converted.pngEach year the SoA runs an annual Summer Challenge to encourage you to get away from your desks to promote better mental and physical health, and raise awareness of our resources at societyofauthors.org/help – designed to signpost you towards help with anything from your career and finances, to your health, mental health and general wellbeing.

We’ll be sharing tips and quotes throughout the week on how other members are downing tools – and why we should all be mindful of taking a minute to do nothing.

Here are some tips from authors to get you started:


Sarah Waters, SoA Council member:

‘From the outside, writing doesn't look like work – it looks sitting around, doing not very much. But when I'm working on a novel for hours at a time, my brain can start to feel overstretched and overcrowded, as if it's teeming with words. I have to take regular breaks, just to quieten things down. I always go back to my desk feeling better afterwards.’


Joanne Harris, SoA Council and Management Committee member:

‘Like a lot of writers, I find it hard to down tools. But this summer, I'm forcing myself to go for an hour's walk (or a run) outside every day. It sets me up for the day, and makes a tremendous difference to my energy levels!

‘Set yourself regular hours. Writers, like other workers-from-home, tend to be "on duty" all the time. Set aside proper mealtimes, breaks and time to relax far away from your desk – and keep to them. You'd never expect an office worker to work 18 hours a day. Why should you?’


Cressida Cowell, Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate and CWIG member:

‘I find pottering about my garden the most relaxing thing to do when I #downtools. Even though I live in London, through my garden I can stay in touch with nature, and the changing of the seasons. Every year it feels like a miracle that the bulbs I planted in the autumn are coming up in the spring, and just wandering around, observing how things are growing, what the birds are doing, takes me out of the frantic busy-ness of my working life.

‘On the 19th to 23rd of August I am going to be by the sea in France. Just standing by the sea, soaking up the sun and watching those rolling waves come in brings a restorative calm and peace to my busy mind. Swimming in salt water with a big hat on is also good for the soul.’


How to get involved

Get involved in the Summer Challenge on social media by tweeting or posting about how you #DownTools, using the hashtag, and why you are taking a minute to yourself. Tweet or post a picture of your ‘author tools’ or relaxing outside, and we’ll share your posts throughout the week.

And if you’re not on social media, simply kick back, relax and put your phone down – turn off your laptop and take a minute to yourself. It will make all the difference in the world.

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Illustration © dacianlogan