Do writers hibernate? How long winter nights might affect your work habits

In the last couple weeks, my productivity level has dropped dramatically. At first, I couldn’t tell what was going on with me. Was it because I was fighting a cold? The outcome of my flu shot? Too many days with a kid home sick or Thanksgiving vacation?

the four seasons experiment

an experiment to demonstrate the change of seasons

Then I realized that this happens to me every December–the winter doldrums. Like many others, the lack of daylight in the winter months drops my energy level drastically. I feel like a bear who wants to return to my cave to hibernate.

It’s harder to focus. I’m working more slowly, and I’m a mite less sharp. For someone who likes to accomplish a lot each day, it’s hard not to be disappointed with myself. It’s hard not to feel like a dummy when your mind goes all fuzzy by mid afternoon, and a mild case of the blues makes it hard to be my normal optimistic self.

I’m coping with extra lighting around the house and outdoor exercise every morning. And–I’m ashamed to admit–I’m back on coffee. (I’d weaned myself off a couple months back.) Also, I’m not letting myself make excuses. Even if I don’t feel like doing much except curling up in my bed with a hot mug of tea and a book, I force myself to work. It helps that I’m a morning person–I’m up before the sun these days and getting as much done as possible before I start to fade.

I’ve shifted a lot of my activities, too. I’ve been doing more revising since I’ve had fewer new ideas. When I’m really out of it, I’m doing housework, and I’m going to bed earlier. And I’m reminding myself that spring will arrive eventually–and it’s usually a very productive time for me.

Does anyone else out there experience a vast difference in their productivity level during the dark winter months?

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