There was a blizzard yesterday. No, I’m not being dramatic. The roads are covered in snow, the schools are closed, and it’s a slushy pile of angry people outside…save the children building a snowman across the street.
It’s gorgeous though! Absolutely lovely. But not every single day of winter is filled with brilliant, white, fresh snow. A lot of winter is filled with gray skies, black ice, muddy snow, and questionable spots of color.
How do you draw inspiration from that?
It could quite possibly be the bane of every writer’s existence…motivation. Inspiration. The reason to write today. So the first part of solving the problem is this: figure that you’ll write every single day and not all of it will be good or inspired. you don’t have to be motivated or inspired to write. All you have to do is use a pen or your fingers. Less than that, all you have to do is put words somewhere.
This is the main reason why I say that I don’t get writer’s block. Yes, yes I get uninspired and yes, I struggle to find the right words sometimes. But I find comfort in the fact that I revise for a reason. What’s the fun in revising something you’re sure is good? What’s the fun in revising a body of work that is completely nailed down?
But that might just be my optimist speaking.
It is true though, write now, edit later.
Anyway, how else can you find inspiration in this weather? Look back. Think back. What was summer like? What has changed? Do you miss it?
While I for one love the starkness of a good winter, many don’t. Many yearn for that hot sunshine. The long days of heat and humidity. If that’s you, use this time to comb through your memories. It might be a perfect day for writing in a more melancholic tone about missing things, forgetting things. Use the seasons as your form of expression.
So much of our perception of winter is about absence. An absence of light. An absence of life. An absence of color. An absence of warmth. We can stretch this common feeling and perception into our work. If we’re already experiencing this subconscious feeling of absence, as writers we can use this to evoke a deeper emotion in our reader.
Take death for instance. This is the season to discuss loved ones being gone. This is the season to draw attention to the missing spot at the dinner table. This is the season to focus in on the hole in our mind and in our memories. Our reader is most susceptible as are we to experiencing the highest amount of emotion.
Other themes that are great to touch on during this season are loneliness (mirrored by fresh love), emptiness, depression (seasonal affective disorder), physical pain (joint issues with weather), lethargy/slowing down/death (circadian rhythm change), the seasons of life.
But it doesn’t have to be like that, sad I mean.
Winter has such a unique beauty to it. I talked about this idea when I mentioned appreciating darkness, we don’t have to focus on the absence of light…we can focus on the beauty of the darkness itself. We don’t have to say, “Ah, but without winter we wouldn’t appreciate summer” because that’s not fair to winter.
There’s a special stillness, a silence that is unique to winter. The air is never crisp like this summer. It never feels like you’re breathing in mint. The trees aren’t naked in their glory like they are now. But in the winter, that’s part of what we are gifted.
That’s excluding snow and ice, both of which are absolutely gorgeous. Rivers with the tops frozen. Puddles turned into glass. Sparkling lines dripping from our roofs and gutters. Everything is radiant in winter but because we are so cynical, so pessimistic, we don’t see the beauty it presents to us.
Open your eyes a bit, enjoy the winter landscape even if it is just gray skies and bare branches.
This is gorgeous isn’t it? Look at the pattern of the ice which cannot be replicated. Look at its various strong points and weak points, its meandering way. Frozen water. That’s all it is yet it’s absolutely breathtaking. It has frozen in time the will of water. It has paralyzed the freedom of water and held it in one position long enough for us to witness where it traveled, where it wanted to go. We could even speculate and see where it would have ended up.
And this. What stories could take place in this setting? A wounded animal dripping blood behind it as it fights against the order of its society. A man fighting the elements for some reason, for no reason. Maybe he wants to die and has been unsuccessful. Maybe a little girl in a pale pink dress is walking through, a long cape of blue lace trailing behind. Why is she out there? Who is she? See, now I’m getting into it.
Now how about this one. What do you see? Snow flakes. Ice crystals on glass. A forest in the background? Tendrils of ice snaking to connect to one another. Water loves water, it’s always searching for a way to reconnect. What about the colors? The deep blue of a cold day. The white of the promise of warmth that follows packed in snow. So many roads to take with our imagination.
After viewing these pictures, I feel like mentioning one more thing. We struggle with enjoying winter but children do not. This is a central topic of this blog but we need to be more childlike. Yeah, we don’t quite snow days. We are uncomfortable playing in the snow now. Shoveling is a chore (I like it). The roads are stressful and dangerous.
We don’t know how to enjoy anything anymore. How many of you have good snow boots? Snow pants? Exactly.
Go get bundled up. Go for a cold weather run. Go run and play in the snow! Try some cartwheels, handstands, somersaults. Just play. You don’t even have to play with someone else. Grab your dog. Run around. Just go have some fun.
If you aren’t in a position where you feel capable of doing that…grab some hot chocolate (not tea, not coffee), get bundled and pull a chair outside. Breathe in the fresh winter air. Sit and feel alive. Because though we might not recognize it, the world is most alive in winter. It is wild beauty and chaos. And we ought to enjoy it.