Sunday, February 3, 2013

Wintertime Blues and Writing

 Some people treat winter as just another season, but a lot of folks, including yours truly, dread the shortened days and the exhaustion that comes with them. It starts around November / December (if you live in North America) and wanes come March / April. I think of it as “wintertime blues.” The pros label it seasonal affective disorder. Whatever you call it, as the days shorten and the temperatures drop, some people get sleepy and find it harder to concentrate. A craving for sweets sets in, along with sadness, and lethargy. There is no “get up and go.” For me, the worst of it is the poverty of energy. It takes twice as much effort to write a difficult scene during winter, with maybe six of my best curse words. I might show up at meetings only to nod off during the lecture.  
What causes this? Less sunlight. Humans need sunlight the way I do balloons. What’s more, lack of light may play with a chemical called serotonin, which affects mood. During the winter, I have to think twice before answering a question, and if I’m tired, consider not answering at all. Most times I sleep nine to ten hours a night. Since I work full time and need that much sleep, that leaves little time for writing, socializing, or feeding my balloons. The docs coughed up several solutions – drugs, light therapy, and walking outdoors in sunlight. I found that the last one works best. The morning walks left me with more energy for writing and my other chores. It also helps if I take an afternoon nap. Ditto for staying healthy.
It is really important to stay healthy during the winter. Recently, I’ve had a severe bout with back pain, and that drained what energy I had fast. I had been struggling through a difficult scene in Blood Moon Rising, and I understand why. If I come home from work tired and in pain, at the crux of wintertime blues, I’m gonna have a hell of a time focusing on a scene or anything else. One day last week I came home extremely tired and headed straight for bed. Today is Sunday, my day off. Yesterday, I went to see John Cassidy, the balloon man and magician, and that did my heart good. I came home, refreshed, ready to write some blogs, and later, work on my WIP.
Drugs and light therapy weren’t options for me because of the side effects. The late morning walks work best, along with afternoon nap and staying healthy. My corral of Mylar balloons helps, too. I made a note to take that walk more frequently.
Do you struggle with wintertime blues? How has it affected your writing? What helps you? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Barbara Custer


Debby said...

I think I do struggle with this on occasion but I know some who really struggle.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Popple said...

A lot of people have issues with the wintertime blues, worse than I do.

Catherine Lee said...

I live in Southeastern NC so our winters are mild. My hubby is much more susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder than I am. He works outdoors and gets moody when there are as few as 2 or 3 cold dreary days in a row.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com