Is there a particular season that induces writing? Opinions may differ but, judging from blogs, spring seems the runaway winner as most writer-friendly. There is a visual freshness about it. Birds are in the song. Flowers are in bloom.
And yet, I am most prolific a little later, during the monsoon. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is spending more time indoors, or the cooler weather, or the rhythmic sound of rain on the roof, on leaves, on the sun-baked earth. The writing desk becomes attractive, even unavoidable. Rain falls, words flow.
Every writer has a personal favourite when it comes to seasons. But the shift from one season to another is not always easy. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that many writers struggle with. It is almost on par with that other mental affliction, Writer’s Block. Lydia Sharp, a contributor to ‘Writer Unboxed,’ says her writing follows a cyclical pattern: one season of low output followed by another of copious work.
“I am a seasonal writer,” she says. “There are large chunks of time – days or weeks at a stretch – that I do little to no writing at all. And when I do write during those dark days, rarely do I finish what I start. Sometimes it is not even worth saving, let alone pursuing publication.”
“These low periods are balanced out by the highs. The months when I am finishing everything I start, while also reading stacks of books every night, multitasking work and home, family-ing, day-job-ing, and rescuing puppies on the side…I am a victim of the earth’s annual weather cycle in the region that I live. It’s called seasonal affective disorder, and it pretty much rules my writing process.”
Autumn is another season that writers love. But for me falls are a bit disruptive. Two of Nepal’s biggest festivals – Dashain and Tihar – fall in this season. Homes are gripped by the festive spirit, which lasts for weeks. I usually don’t get much done in this period.
Winter brings several challenges for the writer. Mini battles begin in the morning as you try to shake off the temptation of staying in bed. Then the almost ritualistic act of dressing up for winter (for writing). The desk is not an inviting place; like most things in winter, it seems cold. You slip on your woollen socks and fluff flip-flops. Perhaps winter is the time to write like Montaigne and Mark Twain did—in bed.
Summer (pre-monsoon) seems to have the same effect on writers as it does on the environment: it dries things up. Although the long daylight hours make everything brighter, the heat stifles body and mind.
But if the seasons play such an influential role in our writing lives, what are the implications of climate change? Pretty real, as I’ve found out so far this (extended) summer. Kathmandu has been uncommonly hot and the rains are several weeks late. But it is not that bad when I think of summers in my hometown in the Terai. There, rivulets of sweat run down your body even when you’re sitting directly under the ceiling fan. I wish words came out that easily.
Seasons not only affect the amount of writing some of us accomplish but they also influence our style. Novelist Rebecca Laffar-Smith thinks so. She posed an arresting question in one of her posts on ‘The Craft of Writing Fiction,’ a website that provides tips on writing fiction. “Have you ever noticed your writer’s voice change with the seasons?” she asks. She has a point. Don’t we all develop a penchant for poetry in spring? Doesn’t the outdoors become an increasingly inviting subject to write about in autumn? And doesn’t winter induce deep thinking?
We cannot control the weather. But we can surely keep on writing, whether it’s rain or shine outside and the words are gushing copiously or merely trickling out tenuously.
Lydia Sharp’s quote is from writerunboxed.com and Rebecca Laffar-Smith’s is from craftingfiction.com.
Published on February 26th, Monday, 2018 10:52 AM