Writing

Five Reasons Why Winter is Great for Writing in Manitoba

Hi! I am so happy to be here, and by here, I mean inside, typing and being not dead from freezing. A few feet away from me, right now, it is MINUS THIRTY NINE DEGREES CELCIUS. I put it in caps, because yes, I was yelling. In a little while I have to go outside to put out deer feed, bird seed, stray cat food and pour some bleach down my well because my water stinks. I am dreading it for the reason obvious below. I call this pic “Dude, Where’s My Car?”

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Now you are asking yourself, why is this insane woman talking about all this crap when she said this would be about writing?

WELL, I’m about to tell you.

When it’s this cold out for half of the year, you get REAL tired of playing computer games, watching television, baking new fun kinds of bread and anything else you can think up to procrastinate from your writing. But after the first three or four months, the excuses get thin and you have no choice but to do what the great Sai King advises writers to do. AIC. Ass In Chair. When it’s a choice between doing things inside the house, or going outside and dying, it helps.

I love that man for many reasons, but his writing advice is so blunt and real that you can’t ignore it. At least I can’t. I used to be the Queen of Excuses, oh, I am too distracted, I should clean out the cat box, I need to call my friend, Netflix has a new series, etc. But that little tiny SK voice in my head is nagging me, AIC. Many people may not like his books, but his writing habits are insanely successful. I want to be insanely successful too!

Now, nobody is saying I would be as good as any popular writer out there, or even get published, but I wonder sometimes if the great one would have been so successful so young if he had lived in, say, Florida. He might have been playing out on the beach with his kids instead of sticking inside protected from the wicked Maine winters, and that prison was what pushed him to work so much on his early stories. It is nowhere near as cold in Maine as it is in the area where I reside, Manitoba, Canada, but I bet I’m right about that.

I have been banging away on my keyboard for over a month and produced more than ten short stories and started a few others. The production is caused by my energy being so stunted and unsatisfied in a purely physical way. I can only walk around so much in my little house, and the cabin fever is a real thing, you can go nuts up here if you don’t have anything to keep your energy flow moving. I sometimes see neighbours out walking in this cold, bundled up so you can only see their eyes, but I know it’s not because they are into fitness, it’s because they are getting that Jack feeling, the guy from the story by SK, you know the one, where he goes crazy and sees things and tries to kill everyone. When I moved up here a year and a half ago, my adult kids who still live in the city an hour away, joked about me sitting and typing the same line over and over on a huge stack of paper, just like that guy. I laughed.

As the first winter wore on, it wasn’t funny. I was actually pacing from room to room talking to my cats about how bored I was. I couldn’t just pop out to the store, go shopping, or grab a movie or a book from the library, I had nowhere to go, but to my car. And, let me tell you, even that looks scary today, it involves taking five minutes to get dressed in twenty pounds of clothing, scraping off ice and snow from the car for about ten minutes, unplugging the block heater and the interior car heater, starting the car and then letting it warm up for at least five minutes. By the time the car is ready to go, you are out of the wind and you start to sweat because the twenty pounds of clothes you have on are too much for being in a cramped space with heat blowing in your face. So, you start undoing some of the scarves and crap and drive to the store ten minutes away, spend 3 minutes in the store because you don’t need anything, you just wanted to get the hell out of the house, then drive back home, plug the car in, run into the house, undress, put all your stuff away and you’re exhausted, your eyes are running with frozen tears and your nose is dripping.

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This is why winter is good for writing. I promised five reasons, so I’ll list them for you.

  1. You want to escape the reality of the weather outside for 6 months of the year and you can write about Hawaii, Kenya, the Australian Outback, all kinds of lovely hot places and it makes you feel warmer. It really works, I’ve tried it.
  2. You have so much energy to burn off and no way to expend it, so you write.
  3. The negative aspects of winter, including the lack of sunlight, put you in such a dark mood that your horror, thriller, suspense, sci fi and other spooky types of stories, which are the kind I usually write, are enhanced by your ability to hate everything, resulting in great story ideas, especially ways of killing people with snow shovels, car ice scrapers, etc. Lots of good material there. Freezing to death is a good one too, or shoving someone into an ice fishing hole on the lake.
  4. Less distractions. I live in cottage country, so in the summer you can have twenty people a day come knocking on the door to visit or invite you for BBQs, drinks or just a walk on the beach, none of which I personally can say no to. Even if I know I’m going out to a friend’s later in the day I find it hard to concentrate on writing, daydreaming about charbroiled taters or cold fruity drinks and sitting looking over the lake with the sun tanning my legs. This does not happen from November to May. All the summer people leave and there are only about 5 people out here all year round. No beach parties. Very nice people, but everyone just wants to stay inside and eat winter food and get fat. We joke that the fat keeps us warm, but I’d rather be skinny and just wear more clothes. The first winter I lived out here I gained ten pounds. This year I am politely declining the lunches and potlucks and keeping to my weight that it took three months to get down to last spring. More time on my hands, more time to write. When I am writing I have no interest in food.
  5. Last but not least, January is the time when you have a new year stretching out in front of you, full of possibilities. For me, this year was especially good for jumpstarting my writing again, and as soon as the new year began I started pumping out a new short story almost every day, just so proud of myself and happy to not be outside and to be producing. I hope the momentum keeps up in the summer, we’ll have to wait and see, but in the meantime, I will have a huge pile of finished stories to send out and see if anyone likes them. So, new year, new start, and nothing to look forward to but SPRING!

Thanks for your patience, I just realized how long this is. It’s my first real blog, so I got excited. I hope you like it and show me yours, I love reading them!

Stay warm

KQ

12 thoughts on “Five Reasons Why Winter is Great for Writing in Manitoba”

  1. I guess if you didn’t grow up as a child here, you always miss the warmer winds and grey snow and skies of the big city. I was so impressed with how white the snow was the first winter, in TO it was gray and the sky is NEVER as blue as Manitoba. Air pollution. It might be better there now, but imagine breathing that year round! I’m glad I raised my kids here in the clean air and they don’t mind the cold at all, tell me I complain too much when it’s -45C, LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As long as we can avoid Jack Torrance Syndrome, mwahaha. Seriously, I have got so many stories done in the last month it’s more than I have done for years. Intense boredom is a great motivator! All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…lol

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! I’m Texan, but I spent a lot of time in Minnesota growing up, and I also spent a lot of time in Canada as a kid, including Brandon and Winnipeg. I’ve got a few “siblings” there with whom I grew up, and they’re amazing! Our family sold Those Little Donuts at the Red River Ex for many years 😁. You’re absolutely right, too, winter is awesome for writing, because what else is there to do but write and watch hockey when it’s that cold and the days are that short? 😊😂💗💗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey! Thanks for the reply. I LOVED those little donuts so much, I used to eat three bags of them and get a stomach ache, lol. You have no idea how much I wish I was in Texas right this minute! Our winters have been getting colder every year, it seems. But the RR Ex used to come on my birthday every year, end of June, best time ever. I hate hockey, all sports really, I’m a bookworm type, so I don’t even have that to keep me happy in winter. So, I have Netflix and writing stories. If my electricity goes off I’ll light a fire in the woodstove and get out my pens and paper and candles and nothing will stop me this year. I’m obsessed with putting out as many stories as I can before Spring and all the distractions begin, like going outside to breathe, lol. Anyway, thanks and talk to you soon. KQ

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