Tuesday, January 23, 2018

On Winter Writing

Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way. — Ray Bradbury.

Last night left a dusting of snow on this morning of dim light and colorless sky. The temperatures were in the 50s yesterday. Today, we'll get no better than 34 degrees. I had to turn on the heater inside the writer shed an hour early to be sure it would be tolerable to remain inside for a few hours of navigating my way around what I've been writing. Still, there's beauty in the harsh air and the bleakness of a late January day. It's the shades of gray, the hues of white and black, and just enough chill in the air to remind you that we have some time to go before the newness of a spring. This is what I might label as the time of anticipatory despair. I predict more winter gloom before the light of a new season.

And this is exactly how I feel creatively.

It's not unusual. It's the norm. Anyone who creates feels this. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Is this any good? Is anything I've ever done any good? Will I write myself out of a cold season into a warm one? I've had a sliver of success with my writing. A few awards. Relatively good reviews. But it's not about the outside accolades; it's about the inside accolades. 

Don't worry. This is not going to be some navel-gazing piece about artistic self-doubt. How trite. Pathetic. Boring. Instead, this is about how this sort of gloom, this kind of mini despair, is useful. Even needed. To get to the spring, one must endure winter and all its cold and seclusion and all those shades of gray. Just below the snow that has settled on the barren branches are the yet unseen buds of seasonal blooms. So, the writer puts on his heaviest boots, his thickest coat, his densest wool cap and trudges forth because he knows that if he can hike his way through the weather, knowing there is something good on the other side, he will discover some kind of art. He's been here before. He's questioned it all before. But he knows seasons change. They always do. He knows he's doing what he can. He knows there's something down there below the surface, under the snow.

Three hours behind the walls of the writer shed produced 2,464 words today. Time and space will let me know if any of them are any good.


  1. Oh the seasons of writing. Thanks for reminding us of this in your post. I especially like the part where you mention "inside accolades". All the fanfare means nothing in comparison.

    Wishing you God's continued blessings with all future writing endeavors


    1. I do not know a single writer who does not suffer from inner doubt at one time or another. It’s the creative curse.

  2. I don't find the changing or differentials of the seasons affecting my writing. Since I write indoors (which, I assume most people do), my focus tends to be on the screen in front of me and not what is happening outside.

    As for the temperature - our office, where I spend most of my writing time, is not insulated. So, it does get cold, but on the flip side, one of the cats is usually on my lap, so my legs stay warm. :)

    1. Cats. Yes. Dogs at feet. That works, too. I wonder though, if it's not the temperature, but rather the "mood" of the season that does some of us in. Or does that mood fuel the writing?

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Cody. It’s about finding whatever nugget of creative fire we can find, right?

  4. Hi David, I'm a fellow CWA member. Thank you for writing about Winter writing. Reading about it helps pull through it in some weird way. Thanks for the reminder that seasons do indeed change. And there is a purpose for these changes. If only they could change just a little faster right now though. :)

    Enjoying your writing!