Now that the nights are drawing in and there is much more of a nip in the air, we know here in the UK, that one way or another winter is approaching. So what is winter for and why do writers have any need for winter?
Winter is the time when everything goes underground but actually doesn’t disappear. Animals hibernate but they don’t die. They take a natural break from the world and reappear refreshed if a bit thinner once the earth turns back towards the sun. Plants also burrow deep beneath the earth. Bulbs extend their roots downwards long before their long green noses point upwards into spring. Trees lose their leaves and appear dead to the world but their root system is still beavering away, keeping them alive, albeit at a slower pace.
This is exactly how it is sometimes for writers. We slow down or grind to a complete halt. We feel uninspired, without a single original thought, line, idea, inspiration in our heads. It is as if our creativity has died and we might thrash about frustrated, post anguished comments on Facebook, eat far too much chocolate or even take to our beds. But somehow nothing happens and we are in terror that it never will again.
This is our winter and it might be taking place in the middle of flaming June.
But does it serve any purpose?
Yes, oh yes, it certainly does.
At those times when we feel the tank is empty, we need to remind ourselves that this might be just what we need. Winter – the hibernation of our words, our writing, our creativity. A time when nothing appears to be happening on the surface but under conscious thought, roots are winding their way around the brain, shoots are pushing here and there, sleep is creating rest, space, respite from the task.
Winter is the time to recharge the batteries, take stock, slow down, allow space, stop fretting and just go with the flow.
I have been in winter for several months this year – and we’ve just had our best summer for years! But in relation to my writing, nothing was happening. I was not writing – a novel, a poem, even a blog post was an enormous struggle. I fretted and groaned to fellow writers and him indoors but no-one could help me except to assure me it would all return.
But would it? I moaned. How could I be sure? And when – for heavens sake when?
Unbeknownst to me my root system was working away silently, sucking in the life force, recharging metaphor, plot, verb and noun, waiting for the right moment to push its nose up through the surface of my mind and flare green and true into the space which my winter had emptied out.
For the past three weeks I have been revving up to start Chapter One. I have written 17 character studies, a two line book pitch, a new title, the beginning, end, inciting moment, crises , climax and resolution for my two POV characters and a three page plot outline. My research is sitting comfortably in its place in my memory.
This morning I wrote Chapter One.
Winter is over and the sweet sweet smell of spring has filled my study.
What do you in winter?