Winter is Coming: Time to Hunker Down and Write

winteriscomingWinter is coming. No, this is not a post about Game of Thrones, though I do love me some dragons and wildlings. We’ll talk about the HBO medieval fantasy series some other time.

Really, though. Winter is coming. Even though we’ve had some lovely fall days lately, I can feel the light waning, the change creeping in. The sun is getting further away, its warmth weaker.

Sorry to be a downer, but this week’s topic is “seasons” of writing and productivity. This is a tough topic for me because, like so many people in northern climates, I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder or, as it is aptly abbreviated, S.A.D. When winter rolls around, I lose motivation for the things I usually enjoy. All I want to do is carb load, shuffle around in frumpy sweaters and Smartwool socks, and go to bed at 8 PM. I have a light box propped on my desk that I have to sit in front of for fifteen minutes a day in the winter. If I don’t, I risk slipping into a light-deprived depression that doesn’t lift until the crocuses push their green stems through spring soil.

When it comes to writing, then, it’s all about increments. About setting small benchmarks that build on each other. I do this by setting daily word count goals, usually of no less than a thousand words a day. Hitting that benchmark gives me a sense of accomplishment that, day by day, gets me to the end of the winter and gets me closer to “The End” in whatever I’m working on. And walking away from a finished draft, or a particularly tough round of revisions, is even better than the first daffodil of the spring. But not quite as cool as dragons.

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Photo credits: HBO, InkyGirl

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Susan Gloss is the author of the novel VINTAGE (William Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2014). When she's not writing, toddler wrangling, or working as an attorney, she blogs at Glossing Over It and curates an online vintage store, Cleverly Curated.

7 thoughts on “Winter is Coming: Time to Hunker Down and Write

  1. The winter can be tough where I live, too. We get a fair amount of snow. I’ve found taking up an outdoor winter activity has really helped me enjoy it and shake the blues. And do you take vitamin D supplements? That helps A LOT. In terms of writing, winter is when I’m most productive because I’m holed up inside.

  2. Oh, I hear you big time, Susan. You’re probably not surprised to hear that I’m one of those S.A.D. kind of people too. I have a desktop light lamp too. I do tons of vitamin D (4.000 ius per day), starting now before the mopiness actually hits (I’ve heard this is the way to do it), plus lots of B too. (I forgot why though.) Carb-loading — check! (Unfortunately.)

    I like your idea of writing in increments. Setting attainable goals like that.

    I just thought of something. We’re both going to be gearing up toward our releases during the worst of the S.A.D. months. eeeps…hadn’t thought of that. We need a strategy!

  3. I’ve never really experienced a “real” winter…at least not all season long! I grew up in Miami so any day that the temps dipped below 70 made us bring out the scarves and boots, and now that I’m in Texas I feel like it’s FREEZING because it typically gets to 40-50 (although we’ve had several nights in the high 20s).

    So I guess because cold weather feels like such a novelty to me, I actually get really excited about it. Does that necessarily mean I’m more productive? Probably not. It’s typically such a busy season anyways, with travel, family visiting, and prepping for the holidays. I agree that it’s completely about increments, whether it’s 1000 words or 100.

  4. Oh, the darkness of winter hits me bad, too. I think this year I am going to try that light you mention. And try your writing goal, too. Thanks for the great advice Susan.

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