Seasons of Creativity

Posted by on December 9, 2015

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Winter was once my nemesis.

Okay, sometimes it still is.

Since I was very young, still well in my single-digit years, I’ve struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. The usual symptoms including fatigue, depression, lack of motivation, and cravings would kick in in October or November and stick around as late as late April, and then I’d feel like my happy, bubbly self again.

I remember crying in the winter for no reason. My grades used to tank every third term (for me, this meant dropping as low as a 3.0 grade average, the horror!) and I distinctly remember writing in my journal one October as the familiar feelings of sluggishness settled in, “we’re now entering the crappy half of the year.”

I’ve tried to fight it, cure it, go with it, ignore it, and embrace it. I haven’t quite figured it out yet and I may never, but this much I know: it’s clockwork. It’s how I’m wired. Maybe someday I’ll move to a warm climate where it doesn’t get dark at 4:30 in the afternoon during December, but for now, I live in northern Utah where winter is a thing, and where there’s winter, there’s SAD. That’s my life right now.

I’ve put some thought into seasons lately, and not just the seasons of nature, but the seasons of life and how they echo the seasons of nature. Nature has a season of planting (spring), a season of growth (summer), a season of harvest and winding down (fall) and a season of complete rest (winter). Animals, including humans, have these seasons as well, or at least we should if we want to thrive. So many of us fight these seasons though. We always want to be doing, producing, growing, pushing. We forget to enjoy our harvest or rest.

I like to be productive. I want to always be making things, getting ideas, planting them, and watching them grow. I’ve written about the concept of creative inhales and how vital they are to creativity, and I’m usually pretty good about recognizing an inhale and letting it happen so I can get back to creating again as soon as my well is full.

But what if winter is just one big inhale? What if I actually need a lot more inhale than I think I do? 

What if I really allowed myself to rest and inhale during the winter? What if I followed my impulses to be kind of a slug, read a lot of books, do a lot of reflection, and trust that my desire to create and produce will come back naturally?

After all, spring still comes even after the harshest, darkest, coldest, wettest winters. And the wetter the winter, the more colorful the spring and summer that follow.

So this winter, I’m giving it a try. I’m reading books, journalling a lot, thinking, moving slower, and doing my very best not to fight it. I still create a bit (I just finished writing a novel!), but for the most part, I’ll probably spend more of my time in my little cave with my notebook, and I’ll bloom in the spring like I always do.

I’ll give it a shot.

Also, I might take the rest of December off from blogging, since this is the darkest month when my energy is lowest. If you want to see what I’m up to, follow me on Instagram!

(It’s mostly cat pictures, but there’s some other stuff thrown in there too, I promise!)

How do you feel about winter? Do you allow yourself creative seasons and time to rest, or do you fight it and try to be producing all the time, like I tend to? Let me know!

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