The Seasonal Writer

trees, autumn, seasons, colors, fall, fall colors, nature
Autumn Tree by Forest Scene, Creative Commons.

I say the word “seasonal” about fifty times a day, but I never really apply it to myself. I work at a restaurant, and I tell every table about our seasonal beer. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I started considering the word.

There are a lot of great writers out there who tell us to write every day. EVERY day. Every DAY. Stephen King writes five days a week. Some advocate seven. To an extent, yeah, writing is habit. But everyone is not the same.

I’m realizing after cranking out two books a year pretty consistently that I am a seasonal writer. I can usually do NaNo and write a whole novel — for me 80-90,000 in that month, or at least about 6 weeks total. And usually in May or June, I write the other.

As much as I’d like to write more than that — if I wrote even 1000 words per day, every day, that’d be three or four large novels a year — I seem to have inadvertently become a seasonal writer. I write best in spring and late autumn. Maybe it’s because I hate summer and like to hole up and edit/hibernate in winter. Maybe it’s because my psyche responds to the seasons of change and likes to join in. Maybe there’s no reason at all. But it seems to be what I do.

The silly thing is, sometimes I feel ashamed that I don’t crank out four or five books a year. It sounds laughable. But because of a friendly manager who accommodates my schedule, I have four days off a week. I feel like I ought to get more done than I do. I think as writers, we all sort of feel like that sometimes. That we’re lazy. The internet doesn’t help; half the memes about writers seem to be about how much time we spend on Twitter or…looking at memes. And Chuck Wendig is right when he says that writers write.

But.

NOT writing for a day (or hell, even a week or a month) doesn’t make your writer badge crumble to rust. Sometimes life happens. Sometimes you go through a stage where ideas are incubating and haven’t quite coalesced into something you can express. And sometimes, your brain just needs a damn break.

The important thing is to discover — often through trial and error — what kind of writer you are. If you’re someone who works best when you write small bits every single day, well. Write your small bits every single day. If you’re someone who writes best in huge, über-productive spurts a few times a year (c’est moi), do that.

Today I’m giving you permission (even though you don’t need my permission) to write the way you write best. Learn yourself and use that knowledge to make your art as best you can. Try out a few things. If you’re feeling burnt out from trying to keep up with everyone around you who seems to be writing 5,000 words a day, take a break. Set a calendar alarm. Go see some elephants. Get out in the world. Come back with fresh eyes and a new experience or two.

You can be whatever kind of writer you need to be. I’m Emmie, and I’m a seasonal writer. And I’m okay.

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7 thoughts on “The Seasonal Writer

  1. Shauna Granger

    This year has been a serious test for me to give myself permission to take time off between projects. I hate that feeling we get that we’re some how being lazy because, yeah, you just wrote a whole damn book and edited it and polished it and maybe you’re not ready to jump right into the next project. When I’m on a project, I write 5 days a week, and I count that as writing every day, but we need time to recharge and build up our imagination/muse/inspiration stores to be stronger writers.

  2. I’m a spurt-er too (that sounded grosser than I intended; moving on!) and I also struggle with the guilt that comes with not always writing every day. Thanks for the post, it’s good to be reminded that I’m not a failure if I’m not constantly pumping out words!

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