The Witching Hour

October is one of my favourite times of year. The air and the leaves are crispy, the smell of bonfires is wafting in the air and time to break out the snuggly coat. It is beautiful in Lancaster at this time of year. When it’s not raining, at least. 

Oh, and Halloween. 

Of course. 

I love Halloween. I love the cheap decorations that appear in the shops and the chilling, thrilling atmosphere. I love the darkness and the feel of something lurking just around the corner. 


Click here to read my ghost story ‘Cenwick Priory’

As I’m due another fortnightly #FlashForFriday this week, I think it’s only right I do something suitably spooky. In the meantime, if you’re craving ghostiness do check out my ghost story Cenwick Priory

I am currently on the second read-through of my Project-With-A-Deadline and that is taking up a lot of my time, but it would be great to get another short ghost story written, as well as the flash fic, to celebrate this brilliant time of year. 

Watch this space, if you dare! Mwahaha! 

This month rolling round with its mist, dark nights and mystery also got me to thinking about the concept of the witching hour. It’s a concept that’s always intrigued me: 

The idea of the Witching Hour came about because our bodies aren’t really designed to get our sleep in one go. In the wild you would snatch sleep when and where you could. We’re programmed to sleep for two four-hour chunks a day, give or take. It means most people will wake up at least once a night. Most people these days will turn over and go back to sleep without another thought, but in the day when the reason for this was unknown, it became known as ‘The Witching Hour’.

This provoked to all sorts of weird and wonderful explanations for this dead hour you wake up for no reason and stare into the dark. 

It has also occured to me that this concept can be applied to writing. When you are working on a piece that you enjoy the fervour and passion at the beginning can be unstoppable. You progress in leaps and bounds, the ideas are flowing, you’re living and breathing the narrative and counting every minute you have to spend apart from it. 

And then one day you sit down to carry on and…nothing. Zip. Nada. The feeling has evaporated, like it was never there. It’s…unsettling. 

If you’ve planned your narrative already you might continue doggedly on, hoping it will turn out ok by the end, but the ‘thing’ that fired you has gone. 

Don’t panic. It’s the Witching Hour in writing form. In most cases the work is not a lost cause. You just need a break. You need to go back to the original thing that inspired you (movie, place, idea?), or try something completely different. Put the draft away for a week or a month, read a new book, watch a new movie, go away somewhere.

Listen to lots and lots of music and then one day you’ll turn round and it’ll be there again. You’ll re-establish the determination you thought you’d lost or you might even have an entirely different direction in which to take your piece. 

Of course, if you’ve left it for months and can’t seem to slip back into the process, it might be worth shelving it for an indeterminable time or scrapping it all together. 

It hurts, but it happens. And there may be something else clamouring to get out which is why you got derailed. UNLEASH THE BEAST.

And do not despair. Most of the time there’s a reason the passion ran dry and it’s nothing sinister. Your brain just thought it was time to switch gears. 

Give your work your love and your patience. And don’t be spooked. 



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2 Responses to The Witching Hour

  1. What a great metaphor for that most frustrating time in the writing of a novel! And great advice too. It’s important not to let the frustration knock you off course.

    Why do I have goosebumps up and down the back of my neck now?!

    • jcollyer says:

      OoooooOOOOOooooOOOoooooooo 😀

      And thanks muchly! You are correct: it can make you feel very lost but you cannot force anything either. I have found you simply cannot finish a project you are not enjoying. Best to take a break, turn over and wait to drift back into it naturally 🙂

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