When I used to work a regular nine-to-five job (two of them actually), I found it really hard to write at night. There were so many things going on after work, from happy hour to birthdays, that by the time I sat down at my computer to write, my brain was exhausted and my eyes already drooping. Summertime is by far the worst season to write—people are jovial, they want to go lay out at the pool or beach and every day seems like a party you don’t want to miss. Winter, however, is a different story.
From the moment winter arrives we know it because it’s cloudy all day, making it feel as if the sun ceased to come up at all—the party stops. Mornings blend into afternoons as the gray sky takes the place of sunlight rays and bright summer colors are tucked away in exchange for muted solids and thick down coats. This is the perfect time to write. It’s quiet outside, the coffee shop atmosphere shifts from a bustling, dealmaking center to a place where people go for caffeine and solitude, and we’re given a long stretch of time to work uninterrupted.
Consider the last quarter of the year to be a writing retreat for the evenings. Get out of the house and go to a coffee shop where you don’t know anyone and open up that creative corner you’ve pushed to the back of your mind. If an entire novel or screenplay seems too daunting, write a short story, write a diary entry, write a letter to a friend; writing is muscle that needs to be constantly exercised.
That first week or two of seasonal limbo, where the sun peaks out accidentally and people are conned into thinking fall was given an extension, should be used to brainstorm. If you already know what you want to write then start mapping out your character traits, plots, story arcs etc., and if you’ve got that pinned down then think about your opening paragraph. Should you be a regular social butterfly like me, take this time to start planting the seed in your friends’ heads that you’ll be MIA for the season.
I tell people a couple of weeks in advance I’m going to into hibernation and will emerge when the sun does. People will respect the boundaries you create, even if they try to influence you to do otherwise, and when you emerge with a screenplay or manuscript they’ll welcome you back with a toast and round of shots that will drop you in right where you left off.
Novels, screenplays, poems, and short stories take time to manifest themselves into completed, comprehensive masterpieces, but they always start with a first draft. And when it’s cold outside and my imagination is given a blank sheet of paper and no distractions, I tend to come up with my best material. I write fast and with fervor, expecting that most of it will be crap and always surprised at the story that surfaces.
So what are you waiting for? Pull out your laptop, heat up some coffee, get cozy, and free your creative genius! Winter is here and it’s time to write.