Writing Guide for Imbalc

It’s astrologically the middle of winter, despite news of warm temperatures in Antarctica and not a snowstorm in sight near the northeaster coast of the country (speaking on behalf of New York City).

This mid-season energy, or Imbalc as some spiritualist call it, means taking advantage of rumbling of nature, explore more of life outdoors and create a few stories for yourself that connect with this part of timing in the world.

Here are just a few ways to take advantage of the brick cold, right before spring arrives.

1. Prepare to come out of hibernation. People often think the point of hibernation among animals is to sleep. But many animals have different reasons and purpose to hibernate, and most importantly, most go about it in their own way. There are some, like bears, who eat and eat and eat prior to going down. These are the most know-about hibernators, actually. But then there are others who simply gather their food and rest, although remain awake and somewhat alert. The goal of both creatures, however, is to slow down their energies and preserve as much of their energy for spring. That should be the writing goal of fall and winter for writers. We gather our research and work and drafts, and simply rest and read or gather our thoughts around our work. No need to force write. Just gather our thoughts around it. With that timing behind us, it’s time to start preparing what we’ve gathered and write. What are some stories you’ve kept in hibernation?

2. Be curious. Life after a cold winter gives you the opportunity to see things with new eyes. It’s like you forget just how bright flowers can be, or the largeness of the big, clear skies. Take a moment to observe your surrounding when your eyes and mind capture it. Even the air hits you differently, when you first go outside around this time. Yes, I guess what we’re trying to say is that for the next few weeks, you should try and smell the roses.

3. Have go-to, warm meals. Baby, it’s still cold outside, and nothing warms you up better than a nice warm, meal before a writing session. Apple cider, oatmeal, soups are great creations for the darker, colder months. Have a go-to of warm, quick meals to prepare before sitting down with a blanket and your laptop to write.

4. Take a few online courses. Since you aren’t as active during these cold, winter months, prepping with a few online courses is a great way to take advantage of the energy. Once Spring and Summer arrive, it’ll be harder for you to find the time, and then Autumn rolls around and before you know it, you’re back to settling at home again for the cold season. Think strategically of how you take advantage of the seasons to actually learn and sharpen your skills.

5. Be sure to go outside. Bundle up and get inspired with your surroundings. It should be a must in your writing schedule several times a week. Author Julia Cameron calls it the artist date, but we call is the “just get out and be human” activity. Same thing, same approach. You aren’t gonna be able to understand the world to write about and for, if you’re not trying to participate in it, even if just as an observer.

6. Add walking to your daily to-do’s. Walking is a great exercise to start getting used to the changing world around you. Walk a little each day, even if it’s just around the street or a few blocks down from your home and then back; if done daily it works wonders. This isn’t just for your health and body, but probably most importantly, for your mind. It also helps you meet new neighbors and people you’d never meet otherwise. Knowing the people around you, and becoming familiar with even a handful of them, gives you a sense of community and belonging.

7. Prepare for doing the writing. Although this differs from everyone, there are a few things essential to preparing: reading material, writing pens, notebooks and the space. The space is probably the most important. Create goals around your writing, too. Plan what you want to accomplish for spring. You don’t have to know what you want to focus on for months and months down the road (although that helps), the first few weeks of warmer weather is solid enough.

8. Go to the movies. Alone and often. We communicate using our senses, and often, these are motivated through films and other visual contemplation. There’s a story floating around online that when Mario Puzo wrote The Godfather, he wrote it with a movie in mine. After the book was published, and film ultimately made, Puzo purchased a how-to on scriptwriting. On the first chapter of that book, much to his surprise, was a chapter on The Godfather. Make a list of 5 of your favorite movies and quickly list why these are favorites, what about these are memorable and if there’s a connection between the stories you write and these films.

9. Libraries are your friends. This is a given. Libraries should be at the top of your visiting lists—often. Be an active patron of the library, reaching out to the librarians who run it, suggesting new books, helping prepare programming for them, etc. It’s a public domain for a reason, and with your participation, has the potential to become a remarkable one, too. Is there a program you wish your library had, and if so, can you be the one to create it?

10. So are museums. And landmarks and other unique destinations where you live. It’s important to revisit these sighs for inspiration, reminders, regardless of what you’re writing. History has a way of speaking to us, telling us ways to retell a story and it’s up to us to find a way to do that. Look and research where you live, the stories your land and territory has, from museums to city buildings and old homes that once belonged to great figures; how can you retell these stories?

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