Tips for Staying Motivated to Write Through Winter

Staying motivated as a writer is always challenging, but winter can bring a more intense slump. The chill and darkness of the season can make you want to do nothing but curl up on the couch with your favorite movies and snacks, preferably in pajamas. While it’s important to take time for self-care and relaxation, many writers are still looking for ways to meet writing goals, with an extra push to finish the year strong or start the next one with a rush of inspiration. Staying creative can be easier than it might seem, especially if you find the motivations, settings, and writing style that works for you. Here are a few to try. 


1. Pair Writing with Reading. 


It’s intimidating to stare at a blank page any time of year. Somehow, in winter it feels even worse. Counter this dread and intimidation by starting with reading. This is a way to ease into your literary muscles, to begin thinking poetically and metaphorically, and especially to remember why writing poetry matters. Set a goal of how you’ll meld reading time and writing time. For instance, maybe you’ll read five poems before digging into your own draft, or devote an hour to each. Check out our December poetry recs to end the year on a reading high note. 


Bonus: Collect language from the poetry you’re taking in. If you come across a word you’ve never seen before or haven’t heard used in a while, write it down and think about how you could use it in your own work. Similarly, if you’re reading a collection that experiments with poetic form, sonic devices, or meter and rhythm, think about how you could take risks and do the same. 


2. Stay Stocked Up on Inspiration with Prompts. 


Sometimes ideas for poems come naturally. Other times, not so much. Lessen the pressure and jump in with writing prompts. This beginner-friendly technique has an interesting upside: You might end up unlocking memories and themes that wouldn’t have come to mind otherwise. We’re always publishing fun and creative writing prompt lists on Read Poetry, or you can flip to a random page in a popular book like One Poem a Day or Write It!: 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire. Another fun strategy is to crowdsource prompts from fellow writing friends or your workshop


3. Write in Short, Low-pressure Bursts. 


Some poets prefer to settle in for a whole night of writing. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, it can make carving out time more difficult and can feel more intimidating. If you’re struggling to fit writing into your routine, try identifying a few 10-minute stretches during the day where you can set a timer, pull out a notebook, and free-write. This stress-free, playful approach has no expectations or outcomes attached. And it just might jog longer writing sessions if you generate even one promising line or interesting image, it could be the opening for a new poem. 


4. Make Your Writing Space Cozy and Idyllic. 


What makes your writing space feel inspiring? Whether it’s stocking your favorite writing tools, surrounding yourself with poetry broadsides, or positioning yourself right by a window with a scenic view, incorporate this customization and loveliness into your writing sessions at every turn. Having a space you can write in whether it’s a full room or a snug, comforting corner will grant a ritualistic aspect to your craft. 


5. Alternatively, Use Writing to Get Out of the House.


Some poets love to stay in during the winter, embracing the spirit of hunkering down and recharging. Others get cabin fever and like to get out whenever possible. If the latter is you, connect your writing to the opportunity to explore where you live. For example, each time you write, consider doing it at a different local coffee shop, café, or library. If you have a circle of writing friends, you could also alternate between each of your homes for a more communal writing experience. 


Happy winter writing!