Charlotte Rains Dixon  

10 Ways to Welcome Autumn and Awaken Your Creativity

I love autumn.

Love, love, love it.

Fall is my favorite season–the gorgeous color, the warmish days turning to cool nights, the early dark (I know, I'm crazy but I love it when night falls early), Halloween, and the knowledge that Christmas is coming. 

It is a time when suddenly we're indoors more than out (we spend our summers here in the back yard, having Happy Hour and dinner out on the deck every evening and grilling most nights).   So, since you're spending more time indoors and it's getting dark early, why not refocus your creative efforts? 

Herein, 10 ways to rejuvenate yourself for the runup to the end of the year:

1.  Put your garden to bed.  We planted raised beds this year, and I learned how much harder vegetables are to grow than flowers.  (Turns out they need, um, constant tending.)  Currently the beds feature some anemic tomato plants and deep broccoli kale (a doomed experiment).  But I know that when I get around to going out there and weeding, chopping and dealing with the garden, creative thoughts will flow.  Because that's what happens when you do repetitive tasks–it lets your right brain roam free.

2.  Start a knitting project.  Speaking of repetitive activities, knitting is a great one.  And now that the temperatures are cooler, its a bit more comfortable to hold needles and yarn on your lap. Knitting has the same effect as gardening for me–it sparks all kinds of ideas.  It's time for me to pull out that baby blanket I'm knitting for a friend, before said baby turns into a toddler.

3.  Kick leaves.  Do I even have to elaborate?  Is there anything better than stomping through a pile of fall leaves?  We're not quite there yet in Portland, but I look forward to the near future when I can scuff through leaves on my walks.   Contrary to popular belief that unhappiness and anxiety creates great writing, I believe the opposite.  Doing the things that make you happy creates great writing.  And kicking leaves makes me very, very happy.

4. Sit by the fire.  One of my best purchases ever was a gas insert for our fireplace.  I turn that baby on at the merest hint of cold weather, much to my husband's chagrin.  But just as summer means sitting out back on the deck, fall means sitting inside by the fire.  With a glass of wine, pen and paper, it's perfect.  A fireplace fire means fall to me, what signals autumn to you?  Whatever it is, do it, enjoy it, experience it–the pleasure you derive will be excellent for your creativity.

5.  Make soup.  Like I said, we grill most all our meals during the summer (no hot kitchens for me). But when the temperatures drop, there's nothing better than a pot of stew or soup bubbling on the stove.  A fire in the fireplace, soup on the stove, a glass of wine…the creative juices will be flowing in no time!

6. Take a road trip.  I just got back from a mini-road trip to the eastern part of the state, which inspired me no end.  So did my trip to France.  But my point is you don't have to go overseas or somewhere exotic, take a day trip to the beach (if you're lucky enough to live nearby), or the mountains (ditto), or just the other side of the city.  Travel opens the brain to all kinds of new ideas.

7. Read a book.  I know, we're writers, and so of course we read.  But, shockingly, sometimes we don't, because life gets in the way.  Or summer activities distract us.  But its fall now, darker, colder, and reading weather is upon us.  Short of actually writing, there's no other activity that will make you a better writer than reading.   Period.  I never thought I'd be saying this, but for speed and ease I recommend an Ereader.  I started out loving reading on my Kindle, but now I'm a huge fan of reading on my Ipad mini.  Anyway, it doesn't matter how you read, just do it.

8.  Clean and clear clutter.  My family is laughing hysterically at this one, because,  I'm a bit, shall we say, challenged when it comes to these activities.  But something about the change of the seasons makes me focus on these tasks anew.  Maybe its because I'll be spending more time inside, but suddenly I'm looking for ways to improve my living situation.  I've learned, over and over again, that clearing physical clutter clears mental clutter as well.  So have at it.

9. Play.  Something about telling adults to play is cringe-worthy, isn't it?  But, in our success and status oriented society, taking time to play is the ultimate radical act.  And fall is a good time to do it.  Build a fort out of chairs and sheets in your living room and sit beneath it to write.  Color.   Doodle.  Skip around the block.  Have a tea party with stuffed animals.  It might help if you can nab a nearby child to do this with you, but even if you can't, do it anyway and see what happens.

10. Have a writing marathon.  C'mon, its getting cold and dark outside, you can do it.  Instead of spending your weekend catching the newest movie (or doing any of the above-mentioned activities) vow to write a pre-set number of words.  Maybe 10,000?  Think how fantastic you'll feel when you're done.  And when you are done, you can celebrate with a glass of wine in front of the fire. 

 So those are some of my ideas about how to welcome fall.  What are yours?  Please leave a comment and share them.

Photo by Chris Darling.

0 thoughts on “10 Ways to Welcome Autumn and Awaken Your Creativity

  1. Zan Marie

    Ah, fall when it cools enough for us to *go* outside at all hours and walk. Add the leaves turning and they’re pretty walks. 😉 I love fall, too, Charlotte. We’re waiting for a hard frost sometime in late October to cleanup the flower beds and mulch, so right now we can walk. I love a good walk with a great sounding board like my hubby to work out plot problems.

  2. Charlotte Dixon

    I just got back from eastern Oregon, where we drove through several snowstorms! It got unexpectedly cold over there and even when it wasn’t snowing, it felt like fall. I loved it!

  3. J.D.

    Hi Charlotte,
    Of course, you blog about fall and everything else in ways that stimulate our creativity. Every year, at the advent of Autumn, the MacArthur Genius Award recipients are announced. They receive $625,000, no strings attached, to pursue their passion. Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia, was one such winner. The video of her fascinated me. There she was as the video opened, at her little table, writing in a spiral-bound notebook. (I must watch again to see if it was with pen or pencil.) Later, she has her laptop, presumably to enter what she has scribbled. I know other writers, and I think even you, use this hand-writing method. Yes, I have read a portion of Bird by Bird. When I write I just pick up the laptop, but so often I have trouble getting to the first word. I feel compelled to try this hand thing, this literal writing. This whole thing birngs James Michener to mind. Not sure if he started with his hand, but he was known to write solely on (I think an Underwood) typewriter. He didn’t leap at the first word processor. Instead, he bought up as many Underwoods as he could find. Karen Russell is considerably younger than me and how she ended up with this handwriting technique is a mystery. If I become a hand-to-paper disciple, will I be competing with Karen and a hoard of other writers, scrambling to buy up all the wire-bound notebooks?
    Insipiring stuff, Charlotte.

  4. Charlotte Dixon

    Well, as you know, I love my spiral-bound notebooks, too so I'm in good company if Karen Russell uses them also!  The only problem I have with hand writing is that its a pain to transfer the words to the computer, mostly because my handwriting is so awful.  But often its the only way my muse operates.  I wouldn't worry too much if you don't like writing by hand because lots of others don't ever go near paper and pen!  Thanks for pointing out the MacArthur prizes.

  5. Sara Buck Gilli

    Great list. I love this time of year, although I miss New England autumns, it’s pretty great here in France. Knitting, Sunday Soupmaking, reading, all on my agenda! I just might add a little writing too, why not?

  6. Sandra Pawula

    Love, love this article. But 10,000 words in a weekend? Is that for real?

  7. Charlotte Dixon

    Thank you, Sandra!  And yes, it is for real!  Milli Thornton, of used to get people to write 10,000 words in a day in her writing marathon 10K days.  I just looked up her site and she's doing one tomorrow!  It's  Might be fun to try some time–I've not yet been brave enough!

  8. TomB

    Ad 4. I really take pleasure in gathering around the fireplace with my family and relaxing in rocking chairs at the end of an Autumn day.

  9. Charlotte Dixon

    Thanks for chiming in, Tom, and I totally agree.  We have a big storm here this weekend, but it is still warm, too warm for the fire, alas!

  10. Charlotte Dixon

    Thanks for chiming in, Tom, and I totally agree.  We have a big storm here this weekend, but it is still warm, too warm for the fire, alas!

  11. Charlotte Dixon

    Oh Sara, you’re in France! You lucky woman, you! Yeah, I suppose we could add writing to the list, too. 🙂

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