I once read a factoid that stuck with me. This isn’t unusual. Factoids have a knack for sticking to my brain like annoying wads of gum to a shoe. But I recall it was something to the tune of trees experiencing 70% of their root growth during winter. Now I’m SURE this depends on the tree, zone climate, and a whole lot of other variables that Dendrologists (thank you, Google) could tell you.
But the bottom line is this: Stuff grows even if it looks like it’s not doing anything.
Who in the name of bark cares?! Well…I do. Deeply.
And here’s why:
As writers, we often use our word count as a measuring stick. A way to tangibly gauge whether the BICHOK day is a raging success or a head-hanging failure. *braces self for chorus of Amens* However, I’ve come to realize the inherent danger of this practice. Because for me it’s the writerly equivalent of playing in traffic…at rush hour…on a unicycle. It is a muse kill.
Now, obviously there are word count realities we must self-impose to meet a deadline. I get that. But when the word count becomes your ONLY reality, well, it’s tough not to wither and die on the creative vine.
Because not every success can be measured in words.
Sometimes it’s an epiphany—big or small. That missing puzzle piece that suddenly gives your story/scene more clarity. More depth. More…more. And should that deserve any less rejoicing than the number at the bottom of your computer screen? Please. Just give that a moment to marinate before answering…
THIS is exactly why we as writers (or whatever your creative endeavor) need to give ourselves permission to be the tree in winter. Despite our floundering words or tears over the lack of them.
Stuff grows even if it looks like it’s not doing anything.
Without fail, winter will pass and give way to spring. And all those roots you’ve been so laboriously growing while everyone (including the cat) thought you were hibernating? They’ll finally give rise to the blossoming flower and its subsequent fruit. Glorious, magnificent, word fruit!
They say nature is miraculously complex.
But I say… So is writing.
Honor your nature. Whatever the season.