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Why Winter Is a Productive Time to Write Your Memoir

If you're feeling low from winter, rather than let it affect your writing, instead, try hunkering down and getting cozy! By embracing the attributes of the season, you can use winter as a highly productive time, especially so if you're working on memoir. Make the most of the cold months to delve into your most authentic, insightful, and emotionally diverse writing and experience great productivity as a result.

You may think winter is only good for skiing, cocoa, shivering at the bus stop, and putting on a few extra pounds. By mid-January when the bloom is off the new year rose, it can be tough to stay motivated.

If however you look closely at winter’s particular attributes, you will see why it’s in fact a valuable time for a writer, particularly if you’re working on a memoir.

  • It makes us turn inward physically, emotionally, and intellectually
  • It is quieter, which makes room for us to better hear ourselves think and feel
  • It inspires deep emotion so we can process and find healing.

If you’re feeling depleted by winter, try instead to hunker down, get cozy, and embrace it. Very soon, you will feel replenished and shift into using it as a productive time to write.

spiral notebook with pen and writing
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You May As Well Turn Inward and Curl Up with a Good Book (and in giant socks)

Once the temps drop, even the most avid ski bunny has to come inside eventually. Since for writers the primary job requirement is finding time, being turned indoors by snow streaming sideways does make it easier to both get yourself into the chair and to productively generate pages.

Along with the chill and dark, our instinct to channel our inner bear kicks in. This human-style hibernation typically manifests in spending more evenings and weekends curled up with books, making soup, and having friends by to chat (all of which are way more pleasurable if you’re wearing giant socks).

Revelling in the coziness of the season—after all, the Hygge movement was borne out of long dark Danish winters—means a writer can find pleasure in nurturing a slower-paced creativity-infused wintertime.

When you like doing something, you are more inclined to want to do it again and again. (This is why everyone knows at least a few people who gleefully start assembling their sweater collections in August.) Making your winter writing enjoyable invariably yields more writing and writing of greater authenticity and emotional depth.

A memoir writer requires a clear connection to their heart and mind. Curling up under a blanket as you write your story is a soul-nurturing way to make it enjoyable.

nordic socks

Another benefit to all this writing, taking in and creating narratives, and generating ideas is you’re stimulated intellectually. What a bonus! If you stuck inside, you may as well dig in, smarten up, and enjoy seeing wonderful growth in yourself.

These interwoven wintery characteristics are what set you up for truly productive writing. While the earth falls into slumber, and you turn inward and grow reflective, your ability to use this time to write is valuable currency.

And for those writing memoir for whom intimate access to memories, emotions, and making sense of past and present is a requirement for getting to the heart of your work, winter yields the most insightful and authentic writing.

A life examined is a life lived, and there is no better time to do this than in winter.

A Necessary Quiet: Listen to the Snow

In winter, snow blankets the ground and dampens footfalls. Cities’ clash and clang softens; life takes on a hush.

In the stillness, our thoughts have room to deepen into our bodies and we meditate on our relationship to our pasts. The act of such focused reflection benefits writers and is the essence of memoir and what drives us to write it: to make sense of ourselves through our stories, and to give others the chance to do the same.

fir branches covered in snow

Tap Into Your Emotional Center: Letting Grief Lead to Meaning and Catharsis

Winter certainly has its downsides; lack of sunlight, itchy turtlenecks, reduced companionship, and too much time inside can invite malaise, melancholy, and grief.

If you are able to productively channel any grief that arises to get to the heart of your memories, experiences, and relationships to puzzle your way through them, your grief can lead you to great meaning and catharsis- and to great art. For “Great literature, like great thinking, shows the way to clarity.

Opening the door to our grief can also be beneficial as it gives us access to compassion, understanding, and love. 

It is that union of experience, insight and the simple beauty of language that helps us to give our own grief a name, that gives us a kind of company, that extends a wise hand. 

Christopher Zara, author of Tortured Artists, even says, “art produced without suffering is not likely to be very good.”

The idea of suffering being great art has been around a long time and for a good reason. Psychologist Valeria Sabater writes, “The Romantics thought that without melancholy the pen was out of ink.”

Certainly, great literature has come from inquiry, joy, and appreciation (Haiku, for example, is a celebration of nature). But many books, and specifically memoirs, are borne out of a writers need to grapple with their circumstances or a situation to make sense of them and to overcome. In this case, everyone triumphs: not only through articulating your struggle do you emerge anew, but so too do your readers.

green plants with snow on top

The good news is when we as writers stay the course and address the darker emotions and memories through our writing, we’re processing our way through them on the page. This linear physical act invites logical development, and in that meaning, purpose, and clarity arise. We begin to see things differently.

For a writer working in fiction, self-help, or academic realms, you may experience a surge of creative or intellectual energy from plumbing your own particular depths. For the memoirist, there may be the added benefit of clarity and catharsis, both of which lead to healing.

Victor Hugo said that melancholy is the happiness of being sad. Stendhal also thought that those who were dedicated to writing, painting, or poetry were more prone to melancholy. This emotional state has always been linked to creativity. That deep and profound side of us uses sadness to its benefit.

from “Exploring Your Mind: When Melancholy Takes Over”

Many people report feeling better after writing down their thoughts and feelings for this reason: the ball of wool in their chests can finally gratefully unravel and make room for relief. (Which is great timing, because by this point in the season, you’re likely going to need another sweater!).


Embracing the Power of Winter to Write Your Memoir

bare winter tree

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re seasonally influenced as a writer. You may engage with memory, inquiry and curiosity, and narrative and express your thoughts and feelings in a variety of formats throughout the year.

You may find inspiration while walking bare-footed on hot asphalt in July or under a wet April seal-colored sky and note your productivity rise.

But when you are thrust into more intimate conversation with yourself in winter, you have the best chance of deepening into your heart and mind, your best chance at being human, and for the memoir writer, a truly productive time when you can write it all down.

Winter can often cause even the strongest writer to feel tired, which can affect your interest or passion for your work. Let one of our writing coaches nurture you, so you can regain your footing and begin to feel strong and creative again.

Contact us any time for a free conversation about you and your writing!

*Please never hesitate to talk to someone if you feel the need to reach out. Crisis hotlines and mental health professionals are always only a phone call away.

In the U.S.- Mental Health America Hotlines and info
In Canada- Mental Health Support

One Response

  1. Ha! I take pleasure by raging at the weather. Ordinary activities take so much more energy. Think about it. Taking a walk demands extra preparation just to survive the snow and cold temperatures. Shovelling snow off the driveway and sidewalk is exhausting. And then there is everyone’s nemesis, the snowplow who will spite us by dumping a Great Wall of slush laden snow at the end of said driveway, usually minutes after you’ve finished shovelling.

    However, it is a good time for creative thought, and if you can think creatively, and get your frozen fingers to move, and if a keyboard is close, you might just possibly take advantage of the situation. Yes, get thy butt into the chair and write, perhaps about how a snowplow might meet its demise. Ha, ha ha … makes me laugh.

    However, the strange thing about the feel of fingers on a keyboard is that those creative thoughts in your head have an outlet. Writing unloads the burdensome weight of winter struggles. I do it with a blanket on my lap and a cup of tea on a side table, cause liquid kills keyboards.

    My motto – write to spite, write crap, blather words onto the page, but do it regardless of what might hold you back.

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