Winter Writer’s Block

It is frustrating, sometimes, to discover just how difficult writing can be.

On some days, it comes naturally to me, words and sentences flowing easily from my mind, and I’ve finished whatever project I’m working on before I know it. Other days, like today, you’ll find me pacing aimlessly around the house, muttering to myself. I’ll stop, stare at some aspect of the house, or look out the window for a long moment, and then I’m back at it. Pace. Mutter. Pace. Mutter. “What are you doing?” Grammy asked me. “Writing,” was the short reply. I was. Kind of. Anne Lamott once said something about never starting a writing project on a Monday in December. Perhaps the same is true about Tuesdays in January?

My existence, the past few weeks.
My existence, the past few weeks.

There’s something about the week or two after the holidays… When we’re all stuffed full of good food and comfortable. It’s pretty hard to kick my brain back into gear after a good month or more of hanging out with family and friends who I haven’t seen in over a year. And while the first moth of re-entry was full on and extremely exhausting (though incredibly fun, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat), 2014 has been nothing if not relaxing. We’re still in Ontario, staying with my grandparents on their big piece of property on Wolfe Island. There’s been sledding on the big hill behind their house, and skating on the canal.

Skating with Gabe
Skating with Gabe


In the afternoons the entire house smells of whatever Grammy happens to be baking that day (desserts are her speciality). In the evenings Dad reads to us around the wood stove, or Gramps tells stories of bygone adventures across Central American borders and through Tunisian marketplaces. We’ve heard many of them before, but they never get old. It’s especially fascinating to hear him talk about his adventures (and misadventures) in some of the places we’ve visited ourselves. Perhaps I’ll record him telling a few of his stories to show you. Interested? Let me know!

The Fox, as he likes to call himself.
The Fox, as he likes to call himself.

It’s been a bit cold, but I think that’s been true for everyone lately. And it’s beautiful outside, even if the icy temperatures keep us near the wood stove rather than out exploring. I’ve missed winter more than I thought I did. One of the advantages of the freezing weather is that it drives dozens of bluejays and sparrows to the bird-feeder on the porch. We saw a cardinal and his plain little lady the other day, and this morning a lovely hawk sat under a bush just outside the window for a few hours, huddled away from the wind. The snow has piled up in huge drifts, turning fields to oceans of tiny crystals. The ice storm a week or so ago left the trees looking like sparkling chandeliers scattered around the house. I think I had forgotten just how beautiful winter is. The cold is worth it, in my opinion.


And perhaps, while the cold keeps us inside and I have fewer distractions, I’ll be able to find a cure to my writer’s block. I’ve been told that tea, taking a long break from all forms of writing, reading, and actually making yourself write anyway are all decent cures. I’m open to any suggestions. I’m growing a bit desperate! But until I find a cure to this peculiar and frustrating affliction, I suppose I’ll go back to pacing, searching for inspiration, and muttering to myself for hours on end. Pace. Mutter. Pace. Mutter. I couldn’t think of a better place to do it than here!

Happy New Year everyone!

6 Replies to “Winter Writer’s Block”

  1. One thing I learned from doing NaNoWriMo is to not focus on quality during these times. Just write. Even if it’s pure nonsense. Simply writing the first words that come into my head is enough to get the juices flowing well. The beauty of the digital age is you can always go back and remove the “noise” later. Also, don’t edit as you write. Just write. Save editing for later. REALLY helps a lot.

  2. You can do it! Sometimes, a mental break is all that is needed. STOP trying!

    1. I agree.

  3. I echo Talon… just write! Then to that I’ll add… release your expectations … that’s why there is editing… let it gel… it’s a process… not an event. Just today I finished an article that I started a couple of days ago (only 800 or so words mind you…) My initial thinking was that it would be done in a ‘snap’! Additionally I anticipated (and wrote) a general outline of the content (a few thoughts, words, paragraphs, quotes, etc.) — then began to write.

    Oh my! Did that end up some place else!! But you know what? I like it. I really do! It has much more depth to it that what I initially envisioned the finished product to be (so what if it also includes an additional 150 words… we’ll call it ‘texture’! ;) ) Now … I hope that the Editor will appreciate the “texture” …

    The upside — you are your own “Editor” — and though ‘worst critic’ can go hand in hand with that — I encourage you to find your joy! It will be good! ;)

  4. I tend to go to music or something that relaxes me, like crafting, when I have writer’s block. Music is inspirational for me because it is always playing, so it brings up memories for me and I can usually capture them long enough to write about them. Something relaxing just clears my head and while I’m relaxing, thoughts will just sort of float around. Every now and again, something quite brilliant occurs to me and I’m off writing again. I agree with “STOP trying” because it always feels like the more you try, the more intense the block will be, at least for me. Good luck! You certainly are in a beautiful place! Oh, and The Fox is dressed appropriate for his name in orange and black, don’t you think? I would personally love to hear his stories!

  5. There’s a great book by Natalie Goldberg called “Writing Down The Bones” which addresses the issue of “writers block” and her ideas have helped me a lot. Hope you find a way to get through this frustrating process!

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