According to the Mayo Clinic, “seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — seasonal affective disorder (SAD) begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. These symptoms often resolve during the spring and summer months…
Treatment for may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications.”
I understand that SAD is a form of depression and do not mean to minimize how it can affect people. I do believe that most of us are affected by the change of seasons to some extent. How people deal with it, particularly writers, interests me.
Rather than light therapy, I wonder if writers don’t turn to “write” therapy. I know I do. During the spring and summer months, I tend to turn my attention outward. I relish spring and the fresh green beginning that comes with it. I am a gardener and can get giddy over a caladium leaf unfurling in a pot. I have a burst of energy that surprises me every year and an enthusiasm I would have thought might wane by now. I am a sucker for spring.
Come summer, I am a little worn out from the spring rush and start to dawdle. Sitting on a beach or in my garden while reading a good book feels pretty ambitious to me. Although I love to cook, I can barely muster the energy to throw together a BLT with a fresh tomato. Summer is simply lusciously lazy. Occasionally, I think about what I might write next, but usually spring and summer are the seasons when I do my best editing.
By Labor Day, I am restless. The days are shorter, and I experience a growing sense of urgency and purpose. Wasn’t I supposed to be doing something? Creating something? Shouldn’t I be writing?
This is why I embrace September.
Many writers I know frequently feel “moody” and get into gear for new work after the light and warmth of summer has departed, when autumn literally falls upon them. There is something inspiring about crisp air, a warm cup of tea or coffee, and a cozy fireplace. Maybe it’s the urge to turn inward once Mother Nature winds down the season of fun and sun. I find it the perfect season to start writing a new book. Instead of plummeting into the winter blues, I try to fold into the darkness and dig out the stories that have been fermenting within me.
I prepare to hunker down by starting a new notebook. My fellow Miss Demeanors, Susan Breen, recently wrote a post about the joy notebooks can bring a writer. A new notebook symbolizes commitment. I take my time choosing it.
And so, I am off and running. Into a new book, fueled by the diminishing hours of sunshine, warmed by the hug a favorite sweater gives me. If I start to brood about the ugly forecast or how long winter feels in New England, I hunker down and immerse myself in the world I have created for my story.
For me, writing is therapeutic and the book I write is the bonus.
What about you, my fellow writers? Do the seasons affect your writing?
C. Michele Dorsey is the author of Oh Danny Girl and the Sabrina Salter series, including No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, Tropical Depression, and Salt Water Wounds. Her latest novel, Gone But Not Forgotten was published by Severn House in July 2023.Michele is a lawyer, mediator, former adjunct law professor and nurse, who didn’t know she could be a writer when she grew up. Now that she does, Michele writes constantly, whether on St John, outer Cape Cod, or anywhere within a mile of the ocean.