The Five Seasons of the Writing Process

Note: Although this post is written on the Writing Process, the stages outlined below apply to any creative endeavor.

Life passes through seasons, and everyone and everything are influenced by them. My upcoming book, Soul of the Seasons, discusses the seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer, Harvest, and Fall), the wisdom that they provide, and how our inner lives reflect them.[

As an author, I have found the above to be truest during the writing process.  Like all of life on earth, each writing project possesses a birth, a period of new growth, a time of maturation, a time of harvest, and a time for things to fall away.

Winter: Gestation & Germination.

Writing begins with an idea, a fertile seed that falls softly, seemingly randomly at times, into our consciousness. We might read a headline or overhear a conversation; or we may observe something unusual, and an idea begins to gestate.

Sometimes these seeds lay dormant for years until they germinate, and this period of dormancy is the creative cycle’s Winter season. Things are dark here, and it seems like nothing’s happening. But the fertile ground of our imagination provides the perfect environment for our sprouting ideas, and a tiny root is sent deep. Soon, we’ll see if our idea has what it takes to move to the next season of the writing cycle. It’s good to remember that not all seeds sprout or grow into mature plants.

Visions of Spring.

If our story idea has enough potential, it will poke its head above ground in Spring. We get excited. Ideas spill out everywhere. We might find ourselves scribbling notes at odd moments and daydreaming about characters and storylines. Our vision starts to nag at us at all hours, begging us to write it down! Writing furiously during stolen moments or late into the night, we create our first draft. It’s gangly and wordy and rambling, but it’s finally down in tangible form.

Summertime: Maturation

After a season of explosive new growth, our story needs our help to mature. We now must shape and structure our story idea. If we are not careful to support our seedling story, it may wither and die.

Summer is when our visions are brought to fruition. We notice a particular scene that has wandered into a dead-end alley or a character who needs more development. We might realize the plot needs a better foundation so that the story is logical and cohesive. We prune here and feed there. We water, cull the weeds, and pull up withering plants. We might invite others who are wise in the ways of tending stories to help us. We revise and revise. And revise. It becomes shapely, full-bodied. Our piece begins to resemble that glorious vision we first saw in Spring. It’s nearly ready for the picking.

An abundant Harvest.

Harvest is the time when we find sweet satisfaction in all the hard work it took to bring our project to this place. Though we might still tweak things a bit here and there, it’s time to share with others the product of all our efforts. During this phase, we might send our manuscript to beta readers for their feedback. We hope that others see our work, passion, excitement, and dedication. We dream that, in some way, it will feed their creative seeds too.

Fall: The Great Letting Go.

Now, we must let go. We send the fruits of our efforts to editors, agents, or publishers, generously sharing what we have created with the world. Fall is the time to evaluate what needs to be kept and what must come to an end.

Many authors speak of a sort of post-partum depression when they release their work into the world. Grief, the natural emotional response of letting go of something you love dearly, occurs in the season of Fall. The longer you have worked on a project, the deeper the grief may be.

Often during the writing process, we come across seeds for new story ideas, and we carefully tuck them away until they are ready to sprout and take shape. These ideas will give us something to ponder during our next Winter season of the writing process. But, for now, we can respect and honor that we had what it took to create, shape, mature, and produce our work. In Fall, we value all we have received and all we have been given during the arduous creative process. Soon, we will once again begin the mysterious, magical, rewarding cycle of creation.


About this post: I first learned of these concepts when I began to study Plant Spirit Medicine, a healing modality that blends Five Element medicine (a traditional Chinese Medicine) with indigenous plant spirit healing.  Five Element medicine is a dynamic system of balance and harmony based on the premise that, “Everything has to do with everything.” Like the pieces of a mechanical clock, the dynamic system of life is comprised of seemingly endless parts, all moving and shifting together with precision. And, just as the separate parts all have a purpose and function, they only perform this function as a part of the whole.  

Melody A Scout is a plant lover, speaker, teacher, spiritual advisor, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction. During her Plant Spirit Medicine course she began writing her soon to be released book, Soul of the Seasons. Melody continues to engage with the healing power of her plants friends through her healing practice, as a teacher, and, as a landscape designer and consultant.

Contact Melody at:

seasons@sparkolife.com 

Facebook Pages:

A Spark of Life Landscaping

Plant Spirit Medicine by Melody

Am I Repeating Old Patterns or Engaging in a Healing Crisis?

I’ve been in a bit of healing crisis lately, one that has sent me to bed for several days to recover. These difficult passages often create symptoms that show up as spiritual, emotional discomfort that also manifests in the physical. Symptoms of illness can surface as we make ready for a new chapter in life. Transiting from one season to another is stressful and it’s natural to resort to old coping mechanisms. It’s not uncommon to feel restless, disconcerted, and cranky as a result. 

I’m guilty of possessing what can be a hyperactive inner critic. When I’m not feeling well, either emotionally or physically, my first response can be to wonder what I’ve done wrong. I might ask myself, “Did I eat the wrong thing or stay up too late or forget to take my herbs? Is there something I need to uncover or process or forgive? Maybe I need to meditate or pray or get outdoors more.” More often, however, what I’m experiencing is a natural response to a challenging life passage. 
This is exactly what happened to me this past week as I welcomed in a new phase while letting go of some wounds of the past. 

My book is getting ready to go to print and this a HUGE step for me! As part of this process I am simultaneously planning for a new season of growth and releasing of some old patterns and behaviors. So, it was not really a surprise that my decisions have brought up some old fears, self-doubt, and negative thought patterns.

As I battled what felt like a sinus infection and exhaustion, I wrestled–hard–with my harsh Inner Critic. I became overwhelmed with feelings that I could or should be doing something more, something better. Even though I was aware that I was undergoing a huge transformation, I’d forgotten to practice what I often teach my clients: to be gentle and generous with myself, to stop struggling, and allow for a changing of the seasons

“Sometimes your last resort is your best resort.” –Marianne Williamson

Struggling against my discomfort was exhausting and it soon showed up in my body. My sinuses were so inflamed even my hair hurt. I retreated to my bed, feeling alone and pitiful. This time, however, instead of judging my discomfort to be the result of some personal failure, I reminded myself it just might be a signal that a healing crisis is underway. So instead of letting my unforgiving Inner Critic run the show, I asked, “What do I need right now? What is my body and soul calling for?” The answer was immediate, “Rest, support, and gentle compassion.”

Though there were still many details in getting my book ready for print and, I needed to prepare for an upcoming speaking engagement, I cleared my calendar for a few days. I also took a much needed media break and made an appointment with my healing practitioner. I supported my body by taking herbs and drinking lots of fluids. 

Though asking for help does not come natural for me, I engaged in some loving self-care by texting a few of my close Mamma Bear friends, requesting their love and support. Within the hour I received their loving responses. They offered prayers of healing and kind, nourishing words. Another friend brought over some home made soup. Flooded with tears of gratitude, my exhausted spirit drank in the much needed nurturing, providing me with the strength to face old feelings of unworthiness and loss that had surfaced as a result of my commitment to finishing my book and releasing it out into the world. 

Though the release of my grief and self-condemnation was intense, when I stopped resisting, it passed relatively quickly and soon I was feeling more like myself. I know that, though the process may be uncomfortable, my discomfort will soon pass if I surrender to the season at hand and don’t allow myself to become enmeshed in old behaviors and coping mechanisms. I can gently remind myself to enter into the change of seasons with a generous compassion, one that will welcome in a new period of growth. 

Seasons of Reflection: How do you respond to uncomfortable feelings or situations? How to do engage in gentle self-care? What is your soul asking of you?