10 Reasons Why Halloween is Just a Great Big Metaphor for Writing

5 minute read
Author: Jo

You may or may not have worked it out yet, but Writers’ HQ is, in fact, a thinly veiled front for Witches’ HQ.

It’s in the name, see, with the W and I and the E the S’ and the HQ. We just do a little spell on the other letters and woooooooo, Writers’ HQ. See? Headology, that.

But the closer we get to the great big pumpkiny-trick-or-treat hooha, the veil tends to slip a little bit. Samhain is our time, baby. When the thin gauze between the worlds shifts and quivers and we honour the dead and if they don’t give us sweets we TP their houses. Or something.

Gif of Wednesday Addams saying "be afraid, be very afraid"

It really is a magical time, not just for witches but for writers, too. And here’s how you take full advantage of the spoopiness and/or use Halloween as a genuine excuse to retreat into your witch hut and get some writing done:


1. The veil between the worlds is thin – peek through to the other side

The fine line between the world we see and the world we write is at its most porous. We can, with just a few deep breaths, a little bit of focus, and the summoning of a friendly eldritch spirit, reach out and touch that liminal space from which all special stories flow…

2. Scoop out pumpkin brains and make faces with their skulls

The process of crafting an empty, grimacing effigy and jamming a candle into its gaping cavity is a lot like the process of emptying out our own heads in order to create a brand new living, breathing fictional character – every new protag is just a shell until you light a candle inside ’em.

Gif of a man dressed in a suit with a pumpkin for a head carrying a briefcase as he walks across a car park.

3. Dress up in silly costumes and scare your neighbours

This may be the one night of the year where you can legitimately walk around talking to yourself as if you’re the protagonist of your WIP and people won’t think you’re entirely nuts. So cosplay your character and act it out, baby!

4. The dead walk among us – pour one out for the ghosties

Halloween is a time to respect the dead and pay homage to what came before. So raise a toast to all your deceased, rotting drafts and thank them for getting you to this point and for propelling you towards the next draft.

Gif of two cartoon graves. A disembodied hand emerges from each one and dives into the the other.

5. Bob for apples

Ah, one of the oldest, purest, and most frustrating party games known to humankind. Sticking our faces into a cold bucket of water and headbutting the last of the windfall crop while other people look on and laugh. Almost as hard as trying to grip hold of your plot with your teeth. Hmm.

6. Go trick or treating

Writing is all about risk vs reward, punishment vs payoff. Is your story the best thing ever or a massive pile of garbage? Will your latest submission get accepted or rejected? Can you throw a truly terrible plot point at your protagonist and then make up for it later with the ultimate climactic success? Who knows. You’d better keep writing to find out.

7. Eat your body weight in sweets

Speaking of which, treat yourself by secretly scarfing your kids’/someone else’s kids’ trick or treat haul because we all know sugar and caffeine is legit #writerfuel

8. Witches fly abroad

By the pricking of our thumbs, something literary this way comes… Time to find your tribe, join a writing coven, and cast a mystical spell over your stories to make them bewitching as fuck.

Gif of Anjelica Houston as the Grand High Witch from the Witches throwing off her cloak and gesturing into the air dramatically.

9. Enter the darkness

Samhain marks the passage into the darkest part of the year (or your work-in-progress), and if we’re going to make it to the other side we need to light our way. Light a candle. A small fire. A massive bonfire. Burn the whole thing down! But always keep a spark of hope in the darkness for your WIP to follow.

10. I dunno, make a pact with the devil or something? At this point we’ll do anything to get our books finished

While we don’t, as a general rule, suggest you engage in deals with demonic entities, sometimes a little sacrifice, a little offering, a little prayer, a little burning of the old sage here and there can help to get things done. Failing that, make a deal with YOURSELF and set a deadline, take a course, join some sort of… oh, I don’t know… professional witching writing organisation dedicated to kicking your arse and making sure you meet your targets and achieve your goals and hold your hand all the way.

I mean, what have you got to lose?

Only your soul, lol.

The veil is thin.

The time is now.

Go write/be spoopy/both.

Gif of skeletons dancing in a circle

And if you’re writing something reeeeally scary, go take a peek at our Writing a Thriller course for all the tricks ‘n’ techniques on crafting a suspenseful, terrifying story?

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