It is a common misconception amongst South Africans that Halloween, in the Southern Hemisphere, should occur on 31 October each year. A Gaelic festival celebrating the end of the harvest season, it falls between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice and is commonly referred to as Samhain, pronounced ‘sow-in’. It is a time to reap the harvest and to prepare for the long winter ahead.
In many homes, places are set for departed family members, as it is believed that the veil between the worlds thins and that fey creatures may walk the night. Here in sunny South Africa, we would be correct in making the date for Halloween 30 April each year. Of course, it has become a tradition to throw parties on the last day of October for so long now, that I doubt it will change.
It is known as the Pagan New Year, but regardless of your religious beliefs, it is a good time to take stock of the events of the past year. As a writer, it is the opportune time to take note of your writing achievements and to plan ahead for the next twelve months. It is time to start winding down as the year comes to a close and to take a moment to honour and enjoy any recent achievements.
I can suggest creating a calendar for the next twelve months, in which you set goals for the year ahead. Are you planning on starting a new project, or are you planning on wrapping up an old one? Print out a new version of your Don’t Break the Chain Calendar and don’t be afraid to set yourself some new, but attainable deadlines.
That said, life gets particularly busy around this time of year, with many social events and end of year family and work demands that require our time and attention. Trying to stay on track with your writing schedule may be something of a challenge. Many folks take their annual leave and others travel far from home, making a regular writing schedule more difficult than usual.
Depending upon your needs, set a schedule that is workable for you. Do not plan anything too intensive for the next few months, but rather stick to a steady, if somewhat light, schedule. Remember to factor in all those family engagements, the over-indulgences, and the champagne! No one writes great masterpieces when the liver is trying to cope with too much of Grandma Rose’s triple chocolate pie and samplings of that fine scotch you received as a gift from the office.
The next three months will be taken up with travelling, parties, family time, hectic work schedules and the inevitable January pinch as our ailing wallets recover from the festive season. Do not be too hard on yourself if your creativity is somewhat strained, but if you plan ahead and take the festive season into account, you will arrive at the end of January and look back at some measurable progress where your writing is concerned.
Image “Halloween Background” courtesy of Feelart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net