Spring! Outside my window, a blue jay is trumpeting his presence. A herd of pigeons and finches are gathered around the tree with the bird feeders, chattering and gossiping in voices so collectively loud that once a repairman in my house covered his ears in protest. The windows are open to the breezes because it’s a veryveryvery warm spring in Colorado, as it seems to be almost everywhere.
Winter, it seems, is finally over. This bright morning is a reminder that we always emerge from winter hibernation, a valuable season of retreat, into the fertile time of the year. It’s a good day to pause and consider what the dark season accomplished and then turn, with purpose and intent, toward the season of fertility and growth.
We often grumble over the cold dark days of winter, glower at the low gray skies and the early dark. But winter is a powerful time, and provides a service. We don’t hibernate the way bears do, but maybe you read more books, curled up in a warm spot in your closed, safe house. Maybe you binged on some television, absorbing the dark justice of Westworld or the intricacies of family dynamics in This is Us. Maybe you went to bed earlier, ate heartening foods. Maybe you packed on a few extra pounds. Sometimes we do in the still season, only to let it go with active summer days.
What gifts did winter bring to you this year in terms of your writing? Maybe your reading showed you something about your work, or the political climate started a fire in your belly, or the brilliance of storytelling on a television binge illuminated a problem you’ve had. I was gobsmacked by Lion, the movie about a very young boy who gets lost in India and then tries to find his mother when he’s an adult, illuminating one of my core stories. For a couple of months, I mulled it over–what about it spoke to me so intensely? Finally, while teaching a voice class, it came to me. Lion is about family—what it is, what it means, how it forms, and how it reveals our character. One of my central themes.
How about you? Can you see a gift the winter left for your writing? Maybe a journal on this topic would be illuminating.
Winter is over. Now we tilt toward spring, toward fertility. Many traditions treat the Vernal Equinox as the time for fresh starts, and it makes sense on an energetic level. We want to clear out the junk, air the bedding and curtains, dig in the dirt and plant something new. It’s a good time for a ritual or two. Spring cleaning falls in that category, and so does planting seeds.
The same can be applied to our writing. What have you outgrown? Maybe reference materials that you no longer need, or writing schedules/techniques you don’t bother with anymore. Thank them for their service (as Marie Condo suggests) and give them away.
This would be a great time to clean your office/writing area. Throw out all the pens that don’t work and recycle the stacks of things you don’t use any more. Straighten the book shelves, organize the post-its and office supplies. Take your desk all the way down to bare surface and wash/dust it, then use care when returning items. Do you really need all of it? Get rid of seven things. Or more.
Make some room to let new things grow.
Perhaps you want to let go of a bad habit or two, as well—sort of like a new year’s resolution, only less draconian. Mine is to spend less time on social media in the morning, working down to none. It’s a good habit to add.
Once the clearing is finished, you have space to create new life. Consider your work and your writing goals. What would you like to see grow in your writing garden? Maybe you want to take a class. Study an author in depth to see how she or he does things. Read more novels. Read more non-fiction. Start a new book, or explore a new genre. Maybe you need to take an artist date more often—once a week is ideal, but once a month is a good place to start. Fill the well, much as you add compost to the garden to fertilize it, help it grow stronger. Maybe you need to make more connections to the writing community in your neighborhood, get out more. Maybe you need to spend more hours actually writing.
This, too, would be a good thing to journal about. “If I could grow anything in my writing career, it would be….” It might also be poetic to plant a seed or three in a little pot as a reminder of the things you thought about during this exercise.
It’s your career, your path—choose something that makes your heart sing, makes you whisper, “yes, that, please,” and then follow up. Plant a seed of commitment, and then take the time to nurture the tender thing that grows. Do it with joy and a heart filled with light–because that’s where the magic lies.
Play along: what kind of gifts did winter deliver? Did any of it surprise you? Do you need to scour your work area to make room for new life? Do you have a ritual you practice in the spring that you can share with us?
Now, thanks to tinyCoffee and PayPal, you can!