If you find that the changes from season to season throw off your writing plans, it might be because you are fighting the seasons instead of trying to find a way to embrace those changes.
When I was in University, my friend Bill used to joke that when the spring semester ended he was going to take off his watch and ‘live by the seasons.’
I think he was mostly kidding but the phrase has stuck with me for over 25 years now.
I love the idea of changing your habits and the rhythms of your days to reflect the different seasons – seasons of the year or seasons in your life- and I come back to it over and over in different contexts.
Lately, I’ve been wondering how it might apply to writing.
What could it mean to WRITE by the seasons?
(This post is going to be about writing by the seasons of the year. Next week, I’ll write about writing during different ‘seasons’ of your life.)
Let’s start with this season of the year
Where I live it’s (almost) summer (I hope!) and activities are finishing up for the year, school will get out next week, and schedules are shifting all over the place.
If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps you are experiencing the opposite right now.
Either way, a change in the season often means a change in schedule, a change in available writing time, and a change in your ability/willingness to work in certain ways.
That doesn’t mean that you need to throw away any idea of writing during the next few months. Instead, you may need to re-examine how you approach your writing and consider working in a way that suits this season best.
What we are aiming for is working WITH the rhythm of the season, not against it.
Reduce your expectations and focus on what you *can* do
If you expect every season to provide you with the same opportunity to write, you will have a lot of frustration and disappointment.
If, instead, you take a realistic look at the time you have and what you can actually get done in that time frame, you will see your progress more clearly. (You can read a whole post about this idea here.)
After you have identified what your new expectations are for this season, try not to bemoan the fact that it is not a different season.
That means making an effort to keep your focus on what you *can* do.
What time *do* you have in this season?
What writing opportunities are available to you right now?
Would your available time be better spent writing or revising or researching? Which activity best matches your energy, concentration levels, and worktime?
Identify the unique opportunities of this season
One of the positives of a change in seasons and schedules is that new opportunities arise to explore different ideas.
For example, in summer time, you may be in more locations where there are groups of people. That means that you can people watch, you can eavesdrop, you can see how people interact with each other physically. All of those things give you material to make your writing more realistic and vivid.
(If you have kids underfoot, or willing friends around, you can involve them in your writing by getting them to act out scenes for you to see how they work.)
In fall/winter, you can observe different behaviours and you can watch people in different locations. More people are indoors, and people are starting new activities, it’s all about seeing the opportunities that the weather or your schedule provides.
There will be different things you can do at specific times of the year, the key is in identifying and making the most of them.
Try a Season-Specific Artist’s Date
Our fearless leader, Katharine was on a date recently – with her artistic self – and she posted about it on Facebook.
She was taking the advice of creativity expert Julia Cameron who advises artists of all kinds to take Artist’s Dates. That is, to regularly and deliberately do things to fuel their creative processes. Click here to see a list of Artist’s Date ideas.
So, what might an Artist’s Date entail for you this season?
What specific things happen in this season that fuel your creativity?
How can you find the means to do them?
Writing by the Seasons of the Year
I don’t know what season it is where you are living right now, but I do know that there are opportunities – at least here and there – for you to write.
Perhaps your daily writing session has to shorten to two minutes.
Maybe it has to become a weekly writing session.
Perhaps you have MORE time this season and you need to make sure to plan your writing sessions well so you don’t flounder in the moment trying to decide what to write.*
Whether this is a season of writing, editing, research, or just practice for you, I am hoping you can embrace it fully. I just don’t want frustration about what you cannot do this right now to prevent you from seeing the opportunities that this season provides.
Good luck and write on!
*I don’t necessarily mean that you have to suddenly start writing outlines if that’s not your style. I am referring to deciding in advance when you are going to work on specific projects. Sometimes having a lot of time for a project can be more of a curse than a blessing.