Writing in Winter

I often imagine myself reading in bed with a coffee or hot chocolate to keep me company. It’s cozy and warm and shut off from the rest of the world. But writing is different. It’s active. So when I imagine myself writing, I’m in a coffee shop, wrapped in a hoodie and jeans, with a latte or cappuccino. I picture cold glass windows and steam rising from cups. Scarves, knit and long, wrapped twice around my neck. I graduated in the peak of winter, and I had no experience writing fiction. But I decided I was going to write a novel. Because, you know, it’s super easy to do, right? Immediately after my first shitty job, I’d run home, shower, then go to a coffee shop to work on my first masterpiece. The novel was crap, but since that day, anytime I chance upon that first manuscript, I can see my young, naïve self sitting in Café Diem with a mug of joe.

I’m not one to write in the summer. I always try, but rarely do I succeed. The sun and the warmth beckon and if I sit all day in front of my computer I feel as if the day’s been wasted. And after work there’s grilling and gardening and cooking to be done. But the winter. Nobody feels bad staying indoors when the weather’s cold enough to require scarves, gloves, and maybe that extra pair of socks. In fact, it’s something to look forward to–getting home from work, changing into a warm, comfortable sweater, and sitting down to accomplish something.

Every year, by the time January rolls around, I’m always in the mood to write. And this being the time for resolutions, I often get excited and say, “This is the year, Steven. The year you finally get a book published.” But I’m taking a different approach this year. I’ve been working two years now on the same novel and it’s high time I finished it. This is the winter I do that. All the conditions are right, the plots been written out and revised and written out all over again. I’ve got piles of character sketches, backstory, and discarded scenes.

Chances are, if I don’t do it in the next six months, I’m not going to do it this year at all. This is my last year in Korea. I begin the move home in July. Then it’s time to get settled in and find a job and apartment and start my life all over again. I’ve got the cold keeping me in and plenty of coffee to see this through. I hope when July rolls around I’m also looking at a finished manuscript.


Steven E. Athay is an aspiring story designer and connoisseur of all things awesome. Follow him on Twitter at @steveneathay, or read his blog Afflatus.

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2 thoughts on “Writing in Winter

  1. You need to liberate yourself already. Or, I guess, you will need another 10 or 15 years, to liberate yourself. When you do, you will write good, throbbing, captivating stuff.

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