I am always conflicted at the beginning of a new year. There is a frenetic energy to get moving on goals, set plans in motion, and return to work. This is invigorating for some people. But I want to retreat inward, listen quietly, go where my energy is leading me.
At this time of year, we should be conserving energy. Instead, artificial lights give us a false sense of the day’s energy. We are burning the midnight oil as we jump into action. While we are busy like ants on the hunt for a sugar source, nature is the opposite. Trees and plants go dormant. Animals burrow to conserve energy. Water in many places is frozen, suspended in time.
In the Five Element Theory of Chinese Traditional Medicine, water is the element that pairs with the winter season. Yin water is the deepest manifestation of the thinking process. It is the force of creation, the power of originality and creativity. Water moves with effortless progress. Winter is our best season as creative beings.
When you are in harmony with the energy of the season, your path will be clear for success. Each small step with the right intent will open the door to the next. You will effortlessly flow along the river of your creative journey. But if you jump from one thing to the next without slowing down, your energy will swirl in circles like an eddy in a stream.
In winter, take time to listen.
It is important to take this time and be crystal clear in your mind about what you want to say, who you want to reach with your writing, and what publishing options are best for you. Strengthening your will is a key component of Zhi, the spirit of the water element. When you clearly see your vision as a writer, every decision or project that crosses your path throughout the year will be the right one.
Give yourself creative space in the winter months for deep quiet. Winter is the season to nurture your vital essence. Take this time to nurture ideas for future projects. A dormant seed in winter stores everything it needs to become a strong tree in the growing season. Like trees, we need time to slow down, focus inward, and conserve resources for the right season to branch out and grow.
I love the quiet of a pre-dawn morning in winter. I use this precious slice of time to let ideas percolate. They appear effortlessly in these dark morning hours. As tempting as it is to rush to the keyboard, I quietly listen instead, storing these ideas for later.
Go with the creative flow
Water’s superpower is flow. Water sinks naturally without being forced. It is gentle but all powerful. It flows around obstacles. Let your creativity be fluid during the winter.
Water is all-powerful, but be careful with this energy. Using too much energy when you feel constricted leads to problems, much like water bursting a pipe. When the pipes at my house backed up, the plumber used water at high pressure to blast out a root ball in the main line. Water now moves freely through the pipe, and I am free from worry that the plumbing will back up again.
Winter is not the season to blast through a root ball, metaphorically speaking. Be mindful of your energy flow. If you feel a strong resistance to a writing project, move on to something where the words appear easily. Work on aspects of your writing that go at a slower pace. This is the time to work on outlines and world building.
This season is tough for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Shifts in barometric pressure can be a trigger for migraines. When the pressure drops, so does my blood pressure and I have to go lie down. If you aren’t feeling up to a project, don’t worry about it. Tuck in, rest, then find what works best for your energy.
Slow down your creative energy during the winter. Take the time to listen. Be clear with your vision. Like a smoothly flowing river, your creative work will find its own way in harmony with the season.
Ambre Dawn Leffler is a Tai Chi instructor, gardener, and weather geek who writes about vegetables, seasons, communing with nature, and the interconnections of mind/body. She loves trees and cherishes time in their presence. Learn more about her tree time, garden residents, and wellness practices at her website ambredawnleffler.com and seasonal inspiration from her newsletter Sky Earth Water. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.