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Autumn: my most productive time of year

Alex Roddie
Alex Roddie
2 min read
Autumn walks always focus the mind. The Butley River, November 2004.

Although The Only Genuine Jones is the first book I’ve made a serious attempt at publishing, I have been writing for many years and have come to understand my habits very well. I started in the late ’90s with a clunky old Apple laptop and tended to write by hand at first, later typing up my notes. I listened to classical music while writing and made use of the social networking of the era: the Forward Motion online community of writers which survives almost unchanged to this day, a startling digital relic from a different age. I wrote chaotically. I hated routine in my writing and needed variety to remain productive. Most of all, I was a seasonal creature who found summer heat oppressive and came back to life in the autumn. In later years I was fond of writing in a garden summer house and a lot of my best work was produced after dark, with fewer visual stimuli to distract me.

In many ways, my habits have not changed. I still make use of online support groups for writers, although in the Web 2.0 world this is now a broader category including the UK Kindle Users Forum, amwriting.org, and a variety of Twitter hashtags including #amwriting and #indieauthor. I no longer use an Apple computer for my writing but my philosophy is unchanged: most of my rough draft material is composed in a simple, distraction-free environment (my trusty Palm m500) and then refined on a desktop computer. I still use a variety of classical music for mood modification purposes while writing (a very powerful tool actually, and possibly a subject for a future blog post!) I still hate routine and thrive on variety.

Most of all, though, I remain just as seasonal as I ever was and the start of September is the signal for me to shake off my summer sluggishness and really get down to work.

The old iMac G3. I wrote hundreds of
thousands of words on this machine between
2002 and 2010–and it’s still going strong!

Why is autumn such a powerful stimulant for my writing? A number of reasons, I suspect. My creativity and productivity seems to be tied to the world around me, and as someone who loves the changing aspects of nature throughout the year I am inspired by the better light of autumn, the richer colours, the promise of winter just round the corner. The magic hours of sunrise and sunset become more accessible. I think back to past years when I have done good work between September and December, and this makes me more likely to be productive this time round.

Particularly good years were 2003 (in which I wrote three novels between August and the New Year), 2004 (total rewrite of a 120,000 word manuscript in a single month), and 2010 (half of OGJ’s first draft completed that autumn).

This year I have two simple goals: publish The Only Genuine Jones in digital form, and write the bulk of Alpine Dawn’s first draft. Self-publishing is proving to be a great source of motivation as I know success or failure is largely dependent on my own efforts, so let’s hope it’s another productive autumn.

What is your most productive time of year?

NotesThe Only Genuine JonesWriting

Alex Roddie

Happiest on a mountain. Writer, story-wrangler, digital and film photographer. Editor of Sidetracked magazine (I make the words come out good).

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