How does the weather affect you? How does it affect your work and creativity?
Some people I know suffer, unfortunately, from SAD, i.e. Seasonal Affective Disorder, which occurs among people who live for long periods under cloud cover or reduced sunlight in the winter. In some this causes melancholy or even depression. I remember a former Spanish colleague of mine who glumly reported one late winter – and she had been counting – that “I have not seen the sun for thirty-four days”, and had to go back to Madrid for a restorative long weekend.
I am lucky in that I don’t get SAD in winter, indeed enjoy the snowfall and cosy times indoors. Even I have to admit that there is not much to recommend the weather today – it’s been unseasonably warm and this has turned into blank skies and cold rain being blown sideways in drifts. On the plus side though, this makes it, in my view, perfect writing weather. There are fewer distractions and no tempting sunshine to lure one outdoors, the rain an ideal excuse to stay tucked inside at one’s desk.
Literary critic and writer Alexandra Harris is the author of Weatherland: Writers & Artists Under English Skies, in which she considers English literary and artistic responses to English weather patterns, which are notoriously changeable, from Chaucer up to the present day. However, the ideal weather in which to write, rather than to be inspired by, is a different matter. In an article in The Author magazine, Professor Harris also recounts that winter is her own preferred season for writing, as summer holds the diversions of family, friends, and leisure.
Given we have relatively few lengthy warm and sunny spells in England and the UK as a whole, making such days a novelty, this may be a specifically English / British (or North-western European) viewpoint.
In a warmer clime—or at least, places with longer and more reliably warm summers—presumably writers and creative types of all sorts are more used to writing under the caress of the sun, pulling a table and laptop into the shade perhaps, or without fear they’re wasting one of the few and precious balmy days of the year indoors.
For me though, the ideal writing weather would be getting snowed in somewhere – nothing too scary, just for a couple of days. Maybe a week, given enough supplies.
In the meantime, greetings from the lovely, if grey and soggy, Ribble Valley.
Harris, A. ‘Fine Weather for Writing’, on traditions of seasonal creativity in The Author, Summer 2016.