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How writers can cope with a long, dark winter spent indoors

Need a winter reset? Here are tips for looking after your mental health, filling your creative stores, and passing the many hours until spring arrives.



Organize odd notes

I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of writer who jots things on odd pieces of paper. These can range from a summary of a conversation, significant phrases, even one word that works as an anchor to a memory. They probably don’t mean anything to anyone except me. Sorting and organizing all of these odd notes is the perfect way to occupy a Sunday afternoon: Writing ideas can re-surface, and those that no longer serve you can be discarded, helping you start the week lighter and with renewed energy and inspiration.

Tidy up your archive and make an inventory

I like to think that after I’m gone, my papers will be preserved by the executor of my will and possibly donated to a library. Even if you haven’t thought along these lines, organizing your papers can provide writing inspiration, and re-reading old documents can prompt self-examination and promote self-knowledge – all grist to our mill. Gather diaries, rough writings (unless you’ve undertaken the previous tidy-up tip), notebooks, journals, photos, and letters, and draw up a master list in a notebook or document to make sure everything is present and correct. Remember to update it as necessary. Royal Literary Fund fellow Tom Bryan covers all this in his essay on how to secure your literary legacy.

Go through your bookshelves

Now, this is a sensitive subject for book-hoarders: Donating or selling read or unread books we’ve collected over the years. I am the last person in the world to tell anyone to give up books, but there may be something karmic there. Could opening up space on bookshelves open up other spaces, possibly for our own as-yet-unwritten books? If you’d prefer to exchange rather than donate old titles, consider utilizing book exchange websites like PaperBackSwap or BookMooch.


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