The perfect time to write
Last year I watched a few writer friends successfully complete NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, and a splinter of envy edged its way inside me. How had they mustered the energy, the discipline to write 50,000 words in one month? I was in the defence force – discipline had been my life, from ironing five sets of white uniforms on a Sunday evening, to achieving a mirror polish on my shoes. Yet I could not find it in me to manage 50,000 words in a month.
You may be laughing. You may know authors who get up every day and write religiously for three hours. These unicorn writers rise early, shower, clean their teeth and arrive at their desk like newborns, bright-eyed and brimming with ideas. But for me, the idea of NaNoWriMo was akin to a fairytale. Yes, I wrote and released Patrick the War Man in 2020. And yes, I released The Hag in 2021. But to write a book in a month? That kind of wizardry belongs in one of my books.
And so I wondered, when is the ideal time for me to write? Is it early in the morning, when the Eastern Koel is whooping in the tree outside my bedroom window? Despite his naughty cuckoo tendencies, he’s the ideal alarm clock with his repetitive call. Perhaps it’s later in the afternoon, as the smudge of storm clouds appear in the western sky. That pause, between the wind dropping and the first few drops of rain, that could signify my time to sit down and tap away. Or maybe I should wait until the evening, long after the Australian air force jets have finished their noisy manoeuvres over our house?
Should it be in spring time, as I stay indoors to reduce the dreaded bane of hayfever? No one can ignore the call of fresh growth, and new ideas bursting forth like blossoms. Or should I write in the midst of summer, as I avoid the hot sun and subsequent lupus flare? No, no, it will be better in the stillness of winter, when we are encouraged to go within, to relish the shorter days, eat warming foods, and contemplate our brief lives.
And then I realised all of these times are the perfect moment to write, because in each moment there is a snapshot, a unique sight that warrants describing. I am further blessed to have friends in the Northern hemisphere, and each day on social media, I see the exact opposite of what is going outside my own window. It’s a steamy, overcast day here, but other friends are experiencing snowfall, short days, and lingering chill.
Inspiration is everywhere. If I need to write a gloomy scene while it’s blisteringly hot, I know I’ll find the perfect picture and description online. I can’t currently visit London or San Francisco without a lot of hassle, but there will be someone online showing us exactly what it’s like in these cities right now. I love this immediacy, this intimate glimpse into a far-removed, exotic landscape, especially when so many of us have been housebound. And in a world that has been picked up and shaken like a snow globe, it’s reassuring to see that the seasons continue, that life still goes on.
Perhaps I can’t muster 50,000 words in a month, but I know the rhythm of the seasons will inspire me to explore, imagine, and eventually complete my next story.
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