Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are once again approaching the winter solstice, and although this astronomical phenomenon signals the beginning of winter, the promise of spring glimmers as the hours of daylight begin to increase. This annual return of light has been an occasion for celebration since ancient times, with feasting, gift-giving, singing, and dancing around roaring bonfires marking the “rebirth of the Sun.” As is true for other holidays, winter solstice celebrations can teach us writers some lessons about publishing, submitting, and being creative!
Set goals. The winter solstice marks the end of one solar year and the beginning of another. It is a time to review and reflect on the past but also a time to look ahead, make plans, and set goals. Some people celebrate by writing their goals on pieces of paper, attaching those lists to a Yule log, and then burning the log. Hint: You might want to skip the burning part and keep your list where you will see it often!
Get moving. As part of the celebration of the return of the sun, some revelers help drive away the darkness by dancing around bonfires. Sometimes the cure for writer’s block is simply to get moving. One effective way to do this is freewriting, a great creative writing technique for generating new ideas quickly, with freeform speed and a commitment to withhold self-censoring thoughts. It’s the literary equivalent of dancing!
Be generous. Exchanging presents with loved ones is an integral part of any winter solstice celebration. Think of your writing as a gift, and share it! Making regular submissions increases your chances of having your work published. And if you want to spend your time writing rather than researching markets for your work, let Writer’s Relief do the researching and targeting for you!
Hibernate. When the weather gets cold (or at least, when the days get shorter), consider “hibernating” by staying indoors and pursuing quiet, introspective activities. Read books you love, let your mind wander as you write, and turn your focus inward when the nights are long. There are certain books that are particularly great reads in the winter. Reading the work of authors you admire is an important part of improving your own writing skills.
Take a break. No winter solstice observance is complete without merriment and feasting! Give yourself permission to suspend business as usual, enjoy this festive season with family and friends—and rest up so you’re ready to tackle your list of goals in January.
These are just some of the ways winter solstice traditions can inspire writers to stay motivated and organized—but there is one custom we do not recommend for your writing: decoration. By all means, deck your halls with lights, evergreens, and boughs of holly—but don’t over-embellish your writing! Wordiness will definitely turn off editors and agents, so avoid unnecessary verbiage.