The Writers Circle: Seasons

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

Do you have a favorite time of year to write? Is it easier for you to feel creative at some points during the year than others?  Do you have a favorite time of year in which you set your stories?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

Talking about the Weather

imageThe leaves blow past the window, spinning and twirling in the wind as they travel to a resting place. The emptiness of the trees casts new and different shadows on the ground while also letting more sunlight stream in through the window.  The wind whips past those same windows, making a whistling sound as it points out deficiencies in the way-too-old weather stripping which has needed to be replaced for several seasons now.  Stepping outside, the warm smell of a wood fire from someone’s fireplace fills my nose while my lungs ache from the sudden intake of cold air. The frozen grass and dried leaves crunch beneath my feet, adding yet another sound and sensation to this season. The rain coming down in sheets has to go somewhere when it hits the ground, but where can it go when the ground is frozen and the leaves are clogging all the drains?

The change of seasons and the day-to-day changes in the weather can be inspirational from a storytelling perspective.  Just as it does to you or me, little changes to the environment in your story can mean big things to your characters. The weather and the seasons dictate the types of clothing your characters wear, the amount of time they spend outdoors and even their mood and outlook (I know that I, personally, definitely feel less happy on the darker, cloudier, cooler or drearier days).

Incorporating the environment into your stories can make them much richer and more realistic.  I don’t mean you start your stories or chapters with “It was a dark and stormy night…” or anything like that. The choices your characters make when faced with their environment can build a lot of details about them.  Why does Joe wear shorts, even in the dead of winter? Why does Suzie always carry an umbrella, even on sunny days?  How does the village in your story celebrate the solstices or equinoxes?

Jokes abound about how we as human beings “talk about the weather” when we don’t know what to say.  There is truth to that idea that we do this, but why do we do it?  I’d say it’s because the weather is one thing that every single one of us has in common.  Sure there are regional differences to the changes in seasons and even to the duration or severity of storms.  But still we all are able to talk about the weather because it is a common enemy or ally in our existence on this planet.  And while I wouldn’t recommend dedicating entire chapters or thousands of words detailing the specific nature of the exact angle at which the windblown rain is falling against the leaky windows, I do think that the existence of the rain and the wind and even the leaky windows should be touched upon, especially because of the impact it has upon our characters. It is another case of being careful to include enough detail, but not too much.

Having your characters stand around and talk about the weather for paragraph after paragraph is boring; having them interact with the weather can be insightful.

Do you include the weather and seasons in your stories? What tips and tricks can you share about doing so without spending too much time and too many words on it?

Do changes in seasons affect your creative writing output?

It’s autumn in the northern hemisphere.  The days are shortening.  Average daily temperatures are dropping.  Arrays of food and beverage products are offered in “pumpkin-spice” varieties.   And yet, what excites me most as a writer is that it’s the time of year when my daily word-counts start to skyrocket!

Speaking personally, I feel there’s a strong correlation between the season and my desire to set my butt in the chair to start banging out eloquent prose and engaging character dialog.

Autumn is by far my favorite season; perhaps that can be attributed to the abundance of cherished personal memories I associate with the months from September through December that I feel are worth capturing within my works of fiction.  And for those of us browsing writing-related blogs and discussion groups on the Internet, we’re likely fueled, at least on some unconscious level, by the buzz and hype of National Novel Writing Month that begins on November 1.  I know I am, and I personally look forward to Saturday morning write-ins at the local coffee-shop/bakery with fellow co-blogger at this site, Rob Diaz.  (The camaraderie and commiseration is nice, but I mostly look forward to nibbling the orange-flavored scones and sipping hazelnut coffee.)

My writing patterns change once full-on winter arrives.  Although I continue to write steadily, I find I am more inclined to skip a day or two upon feeling worn out from the early winter festivals of the Christmas and New Year holidays.  Weekends in winter are great for writing because it’s usually too cold, wet, or snowy for neighbors to fire-up leaf blowers and lawnmowers at the crack of dawn.  That affords more time to write without ambient outdoor noises, except of course for the occasional shotgun blast from the area as deer-hunting season is in full-swing.

Where I live, the middle of March is the welcome of springtime.  Biologists will tell you spring brings new life and rejuvenation to the plant and animal world, but what they won’t tell you is that it tends to wreak total havoc on my writing cadence.  The early mornings are brighter and a bit warmer, which finds me yearning for a brisk outdoor light jog about three days a week.  Of course, that’s three days a week of prime writing time now interrupted.

And then there’s summer.  Early-morning clanking and banging from neighborhood home improvement projects tends to be disruptive to me.  Need I say more?

In reality, many of the distractions I describe above that keep me from driving up my word counts are admittedly embellished and satirized.  But it’s true that autumn, for me, brings the best word counts.  I just need to understand how to capture the spirit of autumn and leverage it to my advantage twelve months of the year.