How to Handle Winter as a Writer

by Miranda Brumbaugh in , , ,


Photo by Aaron Wilson via Unsplashed

Photo by Aaron Wilson via Unsplashed

Truth. I’m a Southerner from the hills of Northeast Georgia who has lived in South Dakota for the last four years. Every single winter I get super stoked to see the first snowflakes, and that excitement doesn’t melt until spring. I think it’s because seeing snow in the Deep South was such a treat that signaled a complete slow down of the regular routine. Instead of school and work the bravest souls go out on four-wheelers and in pickups to slide around on the ice and snow, yee haw style. It was a rare thing to see even an inch of snow a season growing up. Now I see a foot of snow anytime from October to May. I’m still amazed by its glittery goodness, covering everything in pure whiteness and reminding me of a Narnia come to life.

Wintertime Sadness

Now here we are at the end of January. The holiday hoopla is all gone, gifted items are collecting dust and your skin starts to parch from lack of sunshine. Lana Del Rey might have herself some “Summertime Sadness,” but we northern writers have a case of wintertime sadness. Part of this has to do with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a very real and scary situation for sufferers. See a doctor if you think you suffer from SAD. They are there to help. For real.

Another part of this has to do with that good ole cabin fever. When the weather is 0 degrees with a wind chill in the -20s, life is all about snuggling and burrowing. Ten minutes outside and you risk death. That’s right death. Actually dying because it’s so cold. Even if you braved the weather for a walk around the block or to venture to your favorite park, you’ll be the only moron out there.

Photo by Paul Itkin via Unsplashed

Photo by Paul Itkin via Unsplashed

Writing in Winter Months

I feel that winter is more of a reflective season. You are forced to hang out in solitude. You spend time reorganizing your work space thanks to Marie Kondo and “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” You are regurgitating old resolutions, or regretting your decision to make, or not to make, new ones this year. You spend a lot of time wishing you were somewhere tropical.

Photo by Zack Sybert via Unsplashed

Photo by Zack Sybert via Unsplashed

As a writer winter grants you the time, mental space and energy to pound out those keys. I find it that I get a lot more done in fall and winter than I do in spring and summer. I’m simply not sitting still enough when there are farmer’s markets, festivals and swimming to be done. Sure, I write in spring and summer, but I get a lot more words to paper when the leaves do their color dance and the snowflakes fly like cottonwood seeds without those sneezy allergens.

If you are trying to work writing into your winter schedule, take those hours you spend watching TV shows and YouTube videos, pinning on Pinterest, and baking artisan bread to dedicate to your craft. Winter doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. In fact, people in other northern lands, especially those Norwegians who love winter and koselig, have found a way to use this introspective time to reconnect with their inner spirit. Use that to help you push out a short story or two, or to wrap up another round of rewriting on your future novel.