Saturday, January 20, 2018

What to Do When Winter Writer’s Block Hits


by Emme Gannon @GannonEmme

One of my quirks is the winter doldrums. 

That period of stagnation comes like clockwork on January 1. While some are ringing in the new year with jubilant expectancy, I am mourning Christmas carols and candlelight services, the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree, and the sense of holiness the season brings.

I’m thrust from a time of expectancy to sluggish mediocrity, intent on robbing me of my joy. I also begin eating an inordinate amount of carbs, much like an animal preparing to hibernate.  Oh, they’re gluten-free, chemical-free, and dairy-free, but carbs just the same.

I blame it in part on the shorter, colder days and in part on Christmas gifts of technological demons that my children feel I need. They send them without warning, and since my children each live a plane ride away, I’m left to navigate their complexities alone.

Alexa hates me and only gives information when she feels like it. Her favorite words are, “Sorry, I don’t know that one.” She dislikes my husband even more as he refuses to call her by her given name. After he throws out one of the aliases he’s gifted her with, she teases him by spinning her little blue light before spewing out the dreaded words, “I can’t help you with that.”

I’ve finally decided to keep them apart. They are not allowed to talk to one another.

Of course, these dark days also play havoc with my writing. The fact that my shoulders are slumped no doubt interferes with the activity of the little grey cells. I’ve searched my soul for an event long ago that may have stunted my January creativity, but none comes to mind. After all, it was a happy January 31 when my twin granddaughters were born, but my doldrums are pretty much gone by then. I can only attribute my eventual transformation from frown to smile to Vitamin D and my Master Gardener skills. Before you shake your head and push delete,
let me explain.

Among the many benefits of vitamin D is improved mood and brain function. The natural way to acquire vitamin D is when skin is exposed to the sun’s rays at noon (when the sun is highest in the sky) for fifteen to twenty minutes in winter and five to eight minutes in summer. The UVB rays of the sun causes our skin to make vitamin D3. While supplementation helps, make sure you purchase D3. I am not a physician so check with your doctor if you have concerns.

While sitting in the sun, bundled like an Eskimo, with only my face exposed, I am in the garden and more aware of the winter phenomenon that only comes to light by reflecting on my surroundings. While all seems still, life is teeming beneath the frozen upper layer of soil. The topsoil is insolating and protecting plant roots, animals, and microbes from freezing. Perennial root systems have spread deep below the frost layer, nourishing plants with life-giving nutrients.

Winter is nature’s backstory.

At just the right time, the hidden life emerges and life comes full circle. Very similar to good fiction—an unforgettable character who survives difficult circumstances. And blooms.

If sun and a walk in the garden do not bring relief to your writing doldrums, be brave and write anyway. Flannery O’Connor put it this way, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Writing takes us deep below the frost level. Just like developing life thrives below the surface of the soil, so writing digs deep and exposes our roots—who we are and what we believe. Our words then have life and meaning.

We change because our writing uncorks that part of us that God ordained we share with the world.

I don’t know about you but I’m tossing the carbs and am ready to take on all those writing challenges. Even Alexa. After all, she’s only a figment of someone’s imagination. Just like my writing.

TWEETABLES

Whenwinter #writing doldrums hit, be brave and write anyway – thoughts from@GannonEmme on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Emme Gannon is a wife, mother, and grandmother who loves to write stories that stir the heart. Her award-winning writing has appeared in Focus on the Family magazine, several anthologies, and numerous newsletters. She just completed her first novel.

13 comments:

  1. "Winter is nature's backstory." Lovely, Emme. I'd forgotten about the benefits of Vitamin D. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, dear Cathy. Blessings to you in this sunny day!

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  2. Emme, I relate to your post, especially about the vitamin D. I am prone to depression during the winter months. I don't have writers block, I just don't want to write. I walk the beach, come home, and I'm ready to write. I live in New England so my walk is cooooold. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of sunshine and Vitamin D.

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    1. Yes, the dark days of winter can truly affect our emotions. A good reminder that exercise is an important component to a successful break through. Blessings on your writing.

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  3. Rev. Dr. John H.KrahnJanuary 20, 2018 at 7:28 AM

    Emme...yet another wonderful piece. Thank you for sharing your gift. I also like Colin Brooks' contribution to overcoming writer's block. "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair."

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    1. Thank you, John, for sharing Colin Brook’s quote. So true. Sometime you just have to plop on the chair.

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  4. I felt as though you had stepped into my mind while reading this! Wonderful piece.

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    1. Thank you, dear Terri! I love that you can relate.

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  5. Hi, Emme. You youngest daughter really struggles Oct-Mar with the winter blues. Her doctor talked me into getting her a light therapy box. She uses it in the morning for 15-20 minutes. My doc advised I increase my vitamin D during the winter, and I often take a vitamin B-12 when I'm feeling especially sluggish. I usually warn my students when I get to school that I took my vitamin B-12 because it energizes me. :) The winter doldrums are real. Wishing you lots of sunshine!

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    1. You are correct, Karen. Both light therapy and B-12 are excellent ways to bounce back from the winter blues. I always have my D and B-12 checked when I go for my routine physical. Blessings to you as you teach. Such an important calling from God.

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    2. Karen, Thank you for the reminder of light therapy and B-12. Both are very important. I have my doctor check my levels during routine physicals. Bless you as you answer God’s call to teach.

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  6. A $10 growlight shining on my work area helps get me thorugh January and February.
    Sunless in Seattle, H L Wegley

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  7. Oh, Emme, how I've missed your beautiful writing! Thank you for sharing your gift with us!

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