I’ve enjoyed writing all of my life. And there’s one thing that, as a regular and consistent writer, I have become aware and accustomed to over time: the times of the day when I write the best. I like typing away late at night, long after my “real world” duties are done and when everyday distractions have been placed into sleep mode for the night. That’s when I feel like I can finally switch my mind from “daily survival mode” to “deep into writing mode.”
More recently, however, it dawned on me that there are also certain times of the year when I feel more into writing than others. I think it hit me in late spring of this year, after spending a lot of time editing a novel. As spring bled into the long days of summer, I found myself completely uninspired to write and barely interested in pursuing my craft. Once I reflected on this, I realized that there really is a seasonal trend to my writing. I tend to be drawn towards writing in the winter months. Spring seems to be my most productive wrapping-up period, when I finish up the projects I’ve toiled away at during the cold and snowy months, or get to work editing either projects from the previous winter, or projects that have been sitting around for a while. Summer, as I mentioned, seems to be the time of the year when I wind down, relax, and allow the creative writing part of my brain to shut off. Sure, I may have occasional spurts of energy here and there and scribble down an idea or two, but generally, summer is my time for reflection.
For the past two years, I have been slowly drawn to more nature-based religions and spirituality. What started out as a historical interest in folklore and myth has bloomed into a stronger exploration of the spirituality of both historical and present-day followers of earth and nature-based philosophy and spirituality. Something that many modern-day followers of paganism often discuss is the notion of the Wheel of the Year. As I began to observe the characteristics and patterns of certain times of the year, I noticed that many of my own writing habits somewhat reflect traditional views of certain aspects and characteristics of different times of the year.
Wheel of the year. Credit: midnightblueowl/wikipedia
Although the Wheel of the Year is a somewhat modern innovation (and is observed by many modern Pagans,) much of it is loosely based on traditional Celtic and Germanic holidays, which divide the year into not only four seasonal festivals (falling on the equinoxes and solstices), but also four other cross-quarter days that land midway between each proper seasonal shift. For instance, instead of just celebrating the first day of winter (in late December), the first day of spring (late March), and so on, one would also observe days that lie midway between (for instance, a celebration between December 21 and March 21, Imbolc, which falls in early February, observes the first early signs of spring). I personally enjoy this view of the year: in my mind, I always felt like the bitter days of early winter have a different feel and tone than late winter, when the snow melts quicker and the sun lingers longer.
At any rate, I think that my writing follows many of these yearly markers quite closely, in such a way that seems to echo traditional practices or observations around these points in the year. Although the observation of holidays eight times a year are based on earlier agricultural practices, I see my own practice of writing echoing those traditional patterns of planting seeds, growing ideas, harvesting my hard work, and reflecting and resting before setting out again to produce.
In recent years, I’ve found that I am most inspired to write once the weather cools off and the days grow shorter, usually around October or November. My mind seems to be “rebooting” and all of the ideas or bits of inspiration I had been storing up for the past months seem to beg to be formed into words and placed on a page.
I find that I really start to sit down and dig into my writing around November or December. This is also when I am bravest: I will take sometimes my craziest ideas and commit them to paper, play around, see if the characters and settings and scenarios work.
(Incidentally, November is also NaNoWriMo: although it’s been years since I took part in this annual writing tradition, I find it interesting that it takes place in November and not, say, April… I wonder how many others out there are also partially inspired to write at that time of year?)
I then write through the long winter, often committing to a schedule or pattern of writing. I remember one year, when I was writing a novel, and I wrote every night starting at about 11pm until 1 or so in the morning. I can get a lot of writing done in the winter: living in the north, we are usually in a very long, cold, dark winter from about early November to April.
In traditional practices, winter is seen as a time when seeds have been planted in the ground and are at rest, quietly waiting to emerge in the spring. I see writing – putting the seeds on the page, so to speak – all winter long as “setting the stage”.
By the time spring comes around in late March or April, I find myself growing impatient with my writing. I am often very ready to wrap it up, to finalize any lingering parts, but have a full and complete draft done. Often I step away from my writing for a while, finally taking a break and allowing myself to not have to write every day. In other words, that “germination” time is drawing to a close, and it’s time to allow my work to be “unleashed” into the world and grow.
I find that spring is the time I go back through my work and re-read it. All winter, I reflected and placed my ideas down on paper, and in spring it’s time to nurture what I planted. It’s time to work the soil, so to speak, and allow the figurative seeds that I planted in the ground over winter to germinate, to flower. I find that I edit best in the spring. It’s like “weeding the garden,” allowing the “flowers” of my prose room to grow and to breathe and to get sunlight, while taking away the superluous bits that are not contributing to the “garden.”
And I have to hurry, because by the time summer is here, and its long days instead of long nights, I of course longer find I can write or edit. The heat seems to stifle my thoughts and work. It slows me down. But it does something else: like the farmer or Gardner who spent all spring planting, it’s time to sit back and let my work do its thing. Some years, I’ve just let my work sit for a while. I take a break from it in summer. Other years, I have finished a project (having edited it in the spring then unleashed it into the world) so I have to let it do its thing and reach its final blossoming stage on its own. That’s what happened this past year: I released my first self-published novel right around the summer solstice.
And then we are back to fall again. (It’s a great circle! The wheel…) It’s time for the harvest. In early fall, it’s time to gather up the remaining blooms from the summer and store away the lessons and bounty of the harvest for winter (inspiration! ideas! things that I want to write over the winter!). I find that I write down more and more ideas this time of year, and even test out a sentence or two. I am getting ready, taking notes, so when November comes, I am ready to write once again, propelling me through the long, dark winter.
Do all creative people do this? Does anyone else “write according to the seasons,” so to speak?