Here’s a wonderful guest post from efriend, Cherie Dawn, author of Girl on Fire, on seasonal creativity. I haven’t written about this… well… ever on WordDreams so I’m thrilled Cherie offered to discuss it. It’s actually a big problem for a lot of writers.
Season Creativity: How I Stay Creative in the Cold of Winter
“You get like this every year,” he said.
Apparently he had picked up on my rhythm: In spring, summer, and early fall I would go 110% on multiple creative projects, from writing a novel draft and poetry to crocheting, to costume design and dance choreographies (I was a part-time fire eater, after all), and more. Late autumn, however, brought with it a dormancy that affected everything around me in nature and also within my own being.
It made sense, and once he helped me recognize the cycle, I was able to embrace it and push through it without falling into a “woe is me, I must not really be a writer” mentality every year. Now, I watch the leaves fall in our Kentucky landscape and with reassurance that spring will come after winter, I just continue to write. If there are days when I don’t feel brilliant (and there are), I take a nap and let it be for a day or so, then sit down and get the work done.
We, as writers, are often given that advice – it’s obvious but we need to be reminded: Writing is work.
Looking back, in some ways 2020 was like a long winter in which we were snowed in, and that’s how I decided to treat it from the first lockdown that March. As soon as my family’s schedules turned to dust, I began channeling my energy and fear alike into a book of poetry that was on the backburner for years. Writing is a gift in that it’s an escape, so take advantage of that; it’s one of the benefits that we sometimes forget.
Who knows what 2021 will be like, but in the meantime, we can treat the winter season as a time to hunker down, go inward, and write as much as possible.
Recently, I was interviewed for the “Art Chat with Linda Riesenberg Fisler” podcast, in which we discussed staying creative throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, writing in general, and more (listen here at LifeSoup.Blog).
While the pandemic and related lockdowns will very likely be over before next year, here are some ways to keep your writing motivation throughout your next “dormant” period, be it winter, or any other regular cycle you may have.
3 Ideas for Writing Inspiration
- Pick up a book. I have a shelf full of books on topics such as creativity, brainstorming, collaborating, and writing (of course). If you’re unable to buy a great book that you know will inspire you, then use your library – some even have eBooks available for those in remote locations.
- Write in your journal. There are a million prompts that you can find for writing in a journal, including personal reflections and creativity challenges. If you don’t know what to write, just make a list. Something as simple as “5 Things I’m Grateful For Today” might be enough to give you the satisfaction of getting the ink flowing, and who knows, it might spark an idea for your current or future projects. Just today, for example, I was stopped in my tracks while listening to my son’s trombone lesson when I realized the sound of the metronome would be an interesting detail if I wrote about a musician one day. Make the most of these little moments that go unnoticed to many.
- Set a mini-goal. As writers, we tend to have deadlines and big goals, but if you’re in a creative funk, consider giving yourself a mini-goal to get you through it. Once a week between now and the end of the season, for example, write one of the following: a poem, a character description, or a specific number of words or pages. I would stay away from something vague like “one hour of writing a week” because it’s easy to let distractions interrupt (or even fill) that sacred time.
Do you tend to have a predictable dormant period when it comes to writing and creativity? I’d love to hear about it, and how you overcome it. Above all, remember to be compassionate with yourself, and to keep writing.
Cherie Dawn Haas is a writer and maker who loves all things that involve creativity. She is the author of Girl on Fire and Personified: Poetry, Prose, Short Stories, and Words of Advice for Young People, and is a co-author of From Meditation to Creation: 9 Guided Meditations for Creative Writing. In 2020 she was a winner in the Poetry Unites Kentucky essay contest for her reflections on the art of losing and the concept of attachments. Cherie Dawn is the editor of Plein Air Today, Fine Art Today, and Realism Today.
More on writing issues
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.