A new month, new good intentions. Just like when I started a new exercise book at school, when I would commit to being extra neat (and then forgetting about it a few days later). It’s good time at least to think about how the advent of December can influence your creative work.

When Christmas is in the offing, it east to miss the quiet and thoughtful offerings that this darkest of months can give us. With the more recent commercialisation of Advent and the current lockdown for many in the UK, it easy for festive celebrations to blur across the month, but I think there is much creative input and inspiration to be found in this period traditionally associated with waiting.

Let’s start with the impact on you as creative individual. The days are at their shortest and the nights feel long. Can this be trigger to adjust your routine take into account the changes that are happening around you? It could be a time for more reading inside, gathering your creative inputs from books, podcasts and films. It could be about taking night walks and embracing the darkness. Or it could be about making sure you get outside at least once to experience the beautiful low light if we have a clear day.

The modern workday doesn’t seem to bend with the seasons. Does it have to be that way? Every other species adjusts their routines according to the time of the year. Why don’t we?

Moving on now to your creative projects. There’s plenty in this time of year to offer new inputs and stimulate new connections in your work:

Surprising colour – yesterday I was harvesting willow whips at dusk under a dull overcast sky. At me feet the growing pile of trimmings were bright green and streaked with red. When I look for it I see flecks of colour everywhere punctuating the sepia landscape. It’s a good lesson in looking for what is actually there rather than what habit expects you to find.

Revealing structure – having lost their leaves the trees reveal the structures of their branches, which stand out against the sky from the earliest light to after sunset. What new forms can you find? How is structure revealed to you in how you work? What is the skeleton that supports your creation?

Darkness and calm – what does absence of light mean to your work? What impact does changing the lighting have? What about being still? There is less energy in the sunlight and less food available for wildlife, and so the metabolic rate of the exterior world lowers. What is the metabolism of our work? How does it change?

Comfort and refuge – outside is cold but inside can be made warm. How does your work create comfort and warmth. How does it welcome people in? How does it provide refuge in a time when people need more shelter?

Allowing decay – the frosts breakdown the cell walls of leaves, accelerating decomposition. There is sadness as the ephemeral structures of spring and summer finally breakdown but there is hope in the fragments that are the nutrients for next spring’s new projects. What can you let go of in the hope of regrowth next year?

I’ll conclude with the alternative words to a Christmas carol that my daughter and I wrote last year.

It's not Christmas til it's Christmas, 
Tra-la-la-la-la-laa, la-laa-laa-laa,
Please remember it's December,
Tra-la-la-la-la-laa, la-laa-laa-laa.
Think of the present, not of your presents
Tra-la-laa, tra-la-laa, laa-laa-laa,
And in December, please remember,
It's not Christmas til it's Christmas Day.

I hope you have a calm and peaceful December.