The Nights That Were Longest

Do the Longer Nights Affect My Writing?

By Jeff Salter

We’re talking about how the seasonal shift to daylight savings time may affect our writing. I can’t swear that it’s related to the longer periods of darkness, but I do think I write a bit more during the colder months.

On one hand it’s sorta logical, since – with fewer daylight hours – I’m even less likely to be out-of-doors [therefore, I’m more likely inside at my keyboard]. But in my case, I think it could relate more to what some people call the Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). The theory goes that less exposure to sunlight (among other changes caused by winter) may cause some people to exhibit some degree of depression… or (in lesser symptoms) to lack the enthusiasm and energy they might manifest during the rest of the year. [Of course, that’s not to say that depressed people necessarily write better… even though anecdotal evidence could suggest such].

This may be a tenuous link – and I probably could not substantiate it with science – but I think I write “better” and write “more” when I’m more isolated and more introspective. Certainly the cold hard winter months tend to isolate me more (from other people and events) and with such isolation may indeed come a bit more time for introspection. Who knows?

What I do know is that among my most productive times – in terms of output, creativity, and the quality of my written expression – was during the winter I spent inside the Arctic Circle, stationed at Thule Air Base, in the northwest ‘corner’ of Greenland. Beginning in December 1972 and lasting until early April 1973, I wrote a ton of poetry — and some of it was pretty durn good stuff.

night

A typical “street” at Thule AB. This could easily have been high noon, if taken during the Arctic Night.

You see, in the Arctic, there’s a period during the dead of winter in which the sun never rises above the horizon. It used to be called Arctic Night, but I think they use a different term these days. But for the better part of some 10-12 weeks, you live without ANY sunshine at all — 24 hours a day of total darkness. [To counter that, the Arctic also has about the same period during the summer months in which the sun never falls below the horizon… so you have the so-called Midnight Sun… 24 hours a day.]

Compared to those extremes during my year in the Arctic, this business about “shorter” days in Kentucky winters is a piece of cake!

My weather analysis falls apart, however, when I think of three other extremely productive writing periods in my life so far. In the WARM months of 1991, I wrote over 90 poems… and in the warm months of 2006, I wrote some 180 poems.

In my fiction writing, my single most productive period was from mid-August 2009 to mid-August 2011. During those 24 months, I completed four novels [Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold, Scratching the Seven-Month Itch, Rescued By That New Guy In Town, and The Overnighter’s Secrets]. That, too, is a bit misleading, however… because during that period I had no contracts yet, was not doing multiple in-depth edits (other than my normal draft revisions), and was not affected by any external deadlines. So I had a lot more time to devote to the raw process of writing.

Question:

What about you? Do you have a “season” that’s more creative than others? Is it related to daylight, to temperature, to solitude? Or to something else?

For a bit more about my Arctic Experiences, check out this previous post:
https://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/stand-up-landing/

[JLS # 304]

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About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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16 Responses to The Nights That Were Longest

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I suffer from extreme crankiness in the winter months and probably a bit of SAD. I worship the sun and its warmth. I don’t think I write more or less with the varying seasons. I write more or less based on the school schedule. Kids in school = more writing time. That said, I am more creative in the warmer months. When it’s cool/cold, I’m like a reptile. I slooooow down.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      Like a reptile — I love that imagery.
      Yes, I can certainly see how raising a young family would be the predominant factor in one’s ability to devote time to writing (or some other creative endeavor).
      BTW, did you post the Muse Tracks Writing Prompt on Tuesday this week, instead of Wednesday?

      Like

  2. Sharon says:

    Interesting thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I tend to hibernate more in winter months, too – other than orchestra rehearsals and teaching, I hole up in my warm house and take care of stuff indoors. And sometimes, that includes writing. Of course, there are all these other projects here that need my attention….

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      you have so many different creative outlets — music, crafts, writing, etc — I don’t see how you have the energy and focus to produce in all those areas.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can understand how you would write and be creative while in the Artic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      it was an invigorating experience … aware of what was happening and watching it develop, almost like it was somebody else

      Like

  5. I would think there would be a LOT of reading/writing in the Arctic…if not,before video games, what could you do all that dark time???
    My thoughts will be on tomorrow.I think we’re all of one mind, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Nearly every nite, we went to so-called “midnight supper” (actually around 9 p.m.) which was our fourth meal of the day. I gained 20 lbs at Thule.
      Also played ping pong, went to a ton of movies, and for one period, the catholic chaplain always had a jigsaw puzzle going at the officer’s barracks.

      Like

  6. Joselyn says:

    While I’m somewhat fascinated by the Arctic, I don’t think I could handle the Arctic night. We lived in Seattle for a year and chose a ground floor apartment that faced north. I don’t think it got any natural light. I wasn’t writing then (other than school work) so I don’t know how the lack of sun affected my creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

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