“Nature is a writer
Springtime is a poet
Winter – dull but brilliant prose master
Summer, butterflies for apostrophes
Autumn an artist, colors with words implied …”
— Terri Guillemets, “Nature’s Inkpen”
Fall is just around the corner in the United States, with the forthcoming autumnal equinox on September 22. Autumn brings chilly nights and gorgeous fall foliage, a welcome change after sweating through the dog days of summer and having to pull the ever-growing weeds in your garden.
The changing of the seasons can affect how we act and feel, both positively and negatively. In fact, the weather can affect your mood negatively more often than positively.
Does this change in mood or behavior also affect our writing? If so, what can we do to combat the effects of seasonal mood changes and stay within our creative process?
Or are there instances where we can just embrace those seasonal changes and use them to spice up our writing? Welcoming the changing of the seasons can allow you to open yourself up to increased creativity as a writer. Experiencing weather-related changes and participating in seasonal activities can inspire you to keep your content more current and relevant.
Let’s explore the ways to effectively deal with our mood swings during the changing of the seasons.
Why Winter Makes Us SAD
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
— Edith Sitwell
Do you get depressed when the days are shorter in the fall and winter? Does the lack of sunlight make you want to throw the covers over your head and stay in bed all day? You’re not alone.
One of the most common conditions related to weather changes is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The Mayo Clinic defines SAD as “a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons [that] begins and ends at about the same times every year.”
Most people with SAD experience it in the fall and winter, but in some cases, people experience it in the spring and summer as well. When people suffer from SAD, they have low energy, oversleep, crave carbs and subsequently gain weight, and have feelings of social withdrawal such as not wanting to go out with friends.
Other than experiencing actual symptoms of depression, the cold weather can also cause general “winter blues.” When it’s cold outside and I’m stuck in the house, I feel pretty lazy and really have to get myself into the mood to edit or write.
In the dead of winter, you might feel bleak and uninspired. Your writing might be darker and heavier, and brooding characters may abound. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.
Writers can use the changes in the seasons as an opportunity to create a certain mood for their content, write about negative characters, and set novels in wintry scenery. How can you use the emotions associated with winter to your advantage?
Non-fiction writers can use the winter to inspire their readers to take action on certain things in the cold months as opposed to waiting until the warmer months. For example, fitness bloggers should use the cold weather to describe winter activities such as skiing or snowboarding that provide great opportunities for exercise. They can remind people that they still have plenty of time to get in shape for swimsuit season.
If you’re an entrepreneur, take this opportunity to offer online courses or programs related to your business that your customers might have more time to take while they’re stuck inside in the cold.
Set the right pitch or tone for your content so you can connect better with your audience or customers. If you are writing about something your customers or audience should act on immediately before the spring and summer months return, use an imperative tone to communicate the importance of the topic.
Your attitude toward a particular subject will show in your writing and might affect how your reader responds to your content. In the winter months, people might need to read content that is more uplifting and positive to get their minds off of the bitter cold or an impending blizzard that will impede travel for days, so consider that while writing your blog posts or articles.
If you write a food blog, write about season-specific dishes, like hearty stews and chili. Review a great new pub where you can drink a pint (or two or three) of winter lager on a cold day next to a roaring fire.
In 2013, I went to the “Snow Bowl” at Lincoln Financial Field — an NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions — with my husband and a couple of our friends. Despite unrelenting snow and abysmal field conditions, the Eagles beat the Lions handily, all the while looking like kids playing outside on a snow day.
We could have decided not to stay at that game after being pelted with snow for a couple of hours, or not even have gone at all — a thought that crossed our minds while we were sitting in the stadium watching traffic at a standstill on I-95. But our cheering kept us warm and our team playing well made us forget about the miserable weather. This type of scenario makes you ripe for writing. An article about this game, with the wintry backdrop and the players having to overcome the adverse conditions to come out with a win, practically writes itself.
Don’t turn away from these situations, such as experiencing SAD or dealing with wintry precipitation, with your writing. Learn to use changing seasonal conditions to add new facets to your content. Fall back without fear and make a snow angel out of your writing!
The (W)rite of Spring
“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
— Mark Twain
It doesn’t get much better than a beautiful spring day. Newly formed buds on the flowers, trees covered in fresh green leaves, and afternoon sun that melts away the morning frost. It’s almost impossible to find people who can say a bad word about the springtime.
But lovely weather can be bad for productivity. If you look outside your window and see bright sun and very few clouds in the sky, it’s hard to sit still and concentrate on your work. You might be in the middle of writing a fascinating blog post when — oooh, a blue jay! — you get distracted by something outside your window — squirrel! — wait, what was I just saying?
During that time of year, make sure to incorporate those delightful feelings of springtime into your writing. Your articles or book chapters might be more upbeat and lively than at other times of the year. You might feel a sense of renewal and positivity with the end of winter turning into the new possibilities in spring.
In much the same way people do spring cleaning in their homes, writers can do a spring cleaning of sorts with their ideas for creating content. Dust off the cobwebs to think about new topics you can write about.
Springtime is tax time in the U.S. Finance bloggers can write articles about tips and tricks for submitting taxes and suggest business-related write-offs that entrepreneurs might not know about. Or use the opportunity to remind people that they can get a fresh start on setting monthly budgets to begin saving for the year to come.
If you write a food blog, spring is a lovely time of year for cuisine. Gone are the heavy winter foods and in come the light and bright favorites that include spring veggies and fruit. Write about season-specific foods to keep your content fresh and timely.
Use a light, spring rain to inspire you to write poetry. Listening to the quiet tapping of it on your window can awaken some feelings in you that can contribute to better writing.
Or walk outside and let the smell of spring newness fill your nostrils and give you a fresh outlook on your latest piece of writing. Take this delightful feeling back inside the house with you to help you conquer writer’s block. Sometimes, simply stepping away from your writing for a bit can be incredibly helpful, and the beautiful spring surroundings give you the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Summertime, and the Livin’ Is Easy — Right?
“The summer night is like a perfection of thought.”
— Wallace Stevens
So much about summer is wonderful. Bright sunshine, the warmth that caresses your skin when you sit outside, the relief of a shady tree after spending a bit too much time reading a fave book on a sun-soaked lawn. Walking along the shoreline while the ocean water splashes your feet and taking a dip in a pool on a way-too-hot day are some of the best things life has to offer.
Scientific studies have shown that weather does, in fact, affect our mood. Spending time outside when the sun is out can make us happier. This feeling of bliss can inspire you to write more if you have newfound energy and a feeling of zen after catching some rays. It could also cause more distractions, but some of these “distractions” can actually be quite helpful.
A summer day at the beach, for example, is a great opportunity for people watching and overhearing ridiculous conversations that you can later incorporate funny aspects of into your next blog post. Attending summer festivals is a great opportunity for entertainment or lifestyle bloggers to find out what music is popular or what fashions are trending. Hiking or rafting on a summer day can be a great way to clear your mind to fight off writer’s block and get some exercise to give yourself much-needed energy to finish your latest blog post.
On the flip side, when it’s too hot outside, people’s moods are often affected negatively. People can become more irritable when it’s too hot. They are not as likely to care about others’ feelings or try to be understanding of other people’s troubles.
In the summer, it might be too hot to write outside and the air conditioner may make your hands too chilly to type indoors. Such first world problems.
For some businesses and entrepreneurs, summer can be a slower time of year. Use that extra time to delve into your content and rethink some of the concepts. Or develop a content calendar that you can use and update throughout the year.
Use the hot summer season to incorporate weather-related aspects into your writing.
Fitness bloggers can remind people that summer has arrived, and use that to promote new diets or products for quick weight loss: “Lose 10 Pounds Before Your First Beach Day!” Or fashion writers can share how to dress for less and still look “hot” in the summer.
Is it a steamy summer day? If you’re a novelist, then maybe you should write about a sultry woman in a barely-there dress. Or write a scene in a courtroom where the guilty party is sweating profusely, not only because of his guilty conscience but because of the oppressive heat in the stuffy courthouse.
Use the elements around you to set the scene in your story or inspire the right pitch or tone in your writing. Entrepreneurs and bloggers should keep their customers and audience in mind when writing content to make sure they can access the content or products they need at different times of the year.
If you write a food blog, write about season-specific dishes, like cucumber and watermelon salad or pasta with heirloom tomatoes. Or recommend a bar with the best mojitos in town that can be sipped on a rooftop deck with gorgeous views. These types of food and beverages are an Instagrammer’s dream, so take advantage of that.
Fall into Your Writing
“Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day.”
— Shira Tamir
Autumn is such a beautiful time of year. The mornings and evenings are crisp and cool, and the leaves falling from the trees are colored in brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows.
Use this beauty to your advantage to improve your writing. This type of scene reminds me of a romance novel or a Hallmark Channel movie (you know, the ones where it’s obvious right from the get-go that the main characters are going to fall in love, but you watch it to the end anyway?). They snuggle up on a porch swing, sip hot spiced apple cider, and watch the leaves fall from the trees.
Chilly fall nights make you want to curl up with a good book, but that doesn’t mean they make you want to write one.
How can you use the fall conditions to inspire your writing? Since the weather is so nice, take some breaks from work during the day or during the week. This can help in instances of writer’s block or if you just can’t think about how to reword sections of that article you’re editing.
Go to a weekend wine festival or pick out a pumpkin from a farm. You might find some writing inspiration in these idyllic autumn locales.
If you’re a professional writer, you can use the change of scenery to remind you of different topics to write about and pitch relevant content to your audience. If you’re a finance blogger, this might be a good time to remind your readers about how to save up for holiday shopping.
Just as the leaves fall from the trees in autumn to eventually make way for new leaves in the spring, use the fall to remind yourself to cut content if needed and let go of extraneous information to keep your blog posts or articles concise and relevant for your readers.
The tone of your writing can be conveyed through details and descriptions, so use the glorious fall scenery to inspire you to use more descriptive language in your writing.
If you write about dining, instead of simply suggesting restaurants and bars with the best apple pie and pumpkin ales, take the time to describe the taste of the food or beverage. “The warm, scrumptious apple pie, along with the generous dollop of homemade caramel ice cream on top, will melt in your mouth and remind you of dinner at Grandma’s.”
Lifestyle bloggers could use the fall to talk about goodies they like to bake, fun fall activities for kids, or the best way to organize your spring and summer clothes to pack them away for the winter.
Do you aspire to write a horror novel? Include a scene with a haunted hayride next to a cemetery.
Jump into that pile of creative leaves and play like a kid.
Leverage the Leaves of Change to Improve Your Writing
Experiencing different types of seasonal changes can help you set the scene better in your stories or create an appropriate tone in your articles.
If you are writing a scene in a novel about people trapped in a ski lodge with snow drifting outside, try to think of a time when you were stuck inside because of snowy conditions. Either you weren’t able to walk or drive in the snow due to a blizzard, or you just didn’t feel like scraping ice and snow off your car. Try to harness those feelings and put them into your story.
One tip is to write a scene with the weather as the centerpiece. You can also use nature to combat writer’s block and spark creativity. Sometimes, weather can be one of the main characters in a story, such as in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
Can you think of a time when you were driving in wind-swept rain and could barely see out your window? That type of rain reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Psycho.
Marion Crane is fleeing in her car, with the wipers whipping quickly back and forth. She is trying to get as far away as possible from where she stole the customer’s money instead of depositing it in the bank. That was a critical turning point in the film: If she hadn’t been caught in such a bad rainstorm, she wouldn’t have had to stop at that motel and meet Norman Bates — and later meet her gruesome, untimely death.
Think of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. If the cyclone hadn’t blown through Kansas, then Dorothy, Toto, and their house wouldn’t have been swept up into the magical land of Oz.
Getting caught in the rain is what led Marianne Dashwood in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility to realize she cared for Colonel Brandon after he dramatically rescued her from a rainstorm.
Instead of being upset by changes in the seasons, try to use them to improve your writing. You might be surprised by how much experiencing seasonal changes can add to your content.
Entertainment bloggers can write about the best activities to do on a rainy day.
A dry spell can inspire a lifestyle blogger to write about the best ways to take care of your garden during the hot summer months.
Extreme weather events, like hurricanes, can inspire people to write about the best ways to prepare for a storm. Finance bloggers can draw on these events to write about the most effective ways to establish a savings plan or underscore the importance of building your nest egg.
There are countless instances where you can add changing seasons to a story. Keep these in mind when you write your next piece of content.
Just Go With the Flow of the Seasons
The changing of the seasons can make people feel many things, from happy and uplifted through to upset, miserable, or frustrated. Instead of getting stuck in the mire of winter weather or feeling distracted by the nice weather of a spring day, use these changes to your advantage by drawing on them to improve your writing.
So, the next time you’re wiping sweat from your brow on a hot summer afternoon or your teeth are chattering while you’re standing outside in a cold rain without your rain boots, think about how you can incorporate those elements into your next story or article. Your writing will thank you for it.