Don’t let the winter chill cool off your writing. Between the holidays and dark days, winter makes it harder for us to stay focused on our writing.
So I’ve devised a writing strategy fitting for this cold season so that you willingly choose to keep the fire burning beneath your creative passion.
Enough of the winter wordplay! Here are five ways to commit more to your writing this season.
Winter presents the biggest challenge all writers face: Finding motivation to write in the dark.
I tell everyone that December is my least favorite month. I run in the dark, go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. The darkness is enflamed by obnoxious, blinding holiday lights of piercing gold, devil red or envious green—not to mention annoying seasonal jingles on repeat blasted from radio stations and storefronts.
I already can’t wait for Christmas to be over.
Many writers like me feel drained from finishing the thirty-day stretch of National Novel Writing Month. How can we possibly think to write more this winter when we’ve squeezed our creativity dry for 50K NaNoWriMo words?
But winter exceeds the December holiday season. If we want our writing careers to take off, as declared in our New Year’s resolutions, then we need to make time to write more this winter.
While there are many similarities to finding more time to write in autumn as during winter, a certain writing strategy is needed for such a cold, dismal season that’s more positive than this introduction to my blog post.
What writing habits do you need so that you write more this winter? I have five suggestions:
Force Yourself Out of the House
When you stay submerged in a familiar setting, you may let yourself get too comfortable inside it. Once you sit in your chair in your living room where you watch TV or read or call a friend, it’s easy to talk yourself out of writing and into doing other things like watching TV or reading or calling a friend.
Sometimes the only way to get yourself to write is to order yourself to leave your house.
Yes, I know it’s cold outside and the car takes forever to heat up. Do it anyway.
The coziest places for writing are at your local café, coffeehouse or tea shop where the fireplace is crackling and you can wrap your frozen hands around a mug of hot chocolate or mocha latte.
If you’re looking to save on cash, or don’t feel the need to buy your way to write in public, there are still places where you can write without having to pay any sort of entry fee.
Your public library often has areas where you can sit and write with access to outlets for charging. If you live near a public university, there are often public spaces you can use where you can also park your car nearby on campus for free during select hours.
Now that you’re out of the house, force yourself to write!
When I have a blog post to write and a tight deadline, I force myself to leave my apartment and stay at my place of writing until the assignment is completed.
Keep a Journal
More of us are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder than we’d care to admit. It’s hard to find inspiration to exercise our creativity when we see only greyness or darkness when looking out the window, so we find ourselves slumping in sadness and stalling our lives when it’s cold outside.
But winter is the perfect time to write. Perhaps you should just be writing something else.
Rather than pursue your Great American Novel, use this time of the year to write about yourself. Find an empty journal or new notepad and write yourself out of this rut.
The beauty of journaling is that it doesn’t have to be the same topic day after day. You can write about whatever comes to mind: your daily activites, your past, your dreams, your random thoughts—just keep writing!
Give yourself this time to be introspective. You may find that your life can be the inspiration or launching point for your creative writing.
Break It Up
In an ideal world, we would write for at least a solid hour and achieve all the words and plot points we wanted to reach for the day.
But most days aren’t ideal. And this ideal fantasy is often not plausible.
If we can’t write for one day or one week, soon we make a habit of not writing than actually writing.
So, why not break up your writing time to sprints throughout the day?
Dissect your daily schedule. Where do you have fifteen, twenty or thirty minutes to spare? This is the time to write as much as you can.
Allow your writing to go with the flow of your life, not control what your schedule needs to be. You may find that by breaking up your writing time throughout the day, you write more words every day.
During the winter months, we basically live our lives in the dark. And when many of us spend hours staring at a screen for work or school or something in between, we find that squinting at a bright monitor screen zaps our creativity and clarity for our writing.
Then we think that writing via digital screen is a good idea?
Writing on a computer or laptop also makes it easy to check email or scroll through social media feeds or play online videos. And there goes all your writing time.
Sure, you can easily turn off your Wi-Fi signal. You can also easily turn it back on.
So eliminate the distraction altogether. Close your laptop. Turn off your phone. Unplug your Internet modem.
Then write the old-school way: By pen and paper.
It’s easier on your eyes to stare at a blank page under room light and write than to type your story against a bright screen. You also use different parts of your brain to move your ideas from your head and onto your paper, so you may discover something new about your story by writing this way.
Sign Up For 85K90
Never heard of 85K90? It’s a writing challenge that pushes you to write, edit and submit your novel for publication—all in one year’s time.
That’s a tight deadline. Luckily, it’s broken up in monthly steps so the goal not only appears to be attainable, it also becomes attainable.
If you shy away from National Novel Writing Month because the pressure of writing a novel in 30 days is too much for your life to handle, this writing challenge can be the perfect fit for your life’s current needs.
You don’t have to write your epic novel in 30 days. You have 90 days to do it.
That’s right. You have all of January, February and March to get it out. In fact, the program even gives you wiggle room in April to crunch out final words for your manuscript if life got a little crazy during the winter months.
It’s definitely more words to write than NaNoWriMo—35K to be exact. But look at it this way: You only need to write an average of 950 words a day to reach your 85K word count goal.
Still too intense? With the 85K90 writing challenge, you can choose to either stretch out your novel writing time over another month or use April to start prepping for the editing phase that happens in the upcoming spring and summer months.
By having an ambitious writing goal that spans the entire winter season, you are more likely to commit to your writing and make time to write everyday.