Sunday, December 27, 2009


Winter Writing: Getting Through the Blahs

Winter is known for its gray days and cold weather, which is often hard for writers to overcome. It's hard for me--right now, while the snow is falling outside and there's not a hint of sun, I'd like nothing more than to take a nice, long nap. But I write through--I have to because I'm a writer. So, what do I do to keep on writing through the long, cold, gray winter days? I use some of my favorite products that help my mood stay sunny and my brain stay awake.

1. Keurig Coffee Maker: (pictured here) My husband surprised me with this yesterday as one of my Christmas presents. I saw one at my friend's house, used it in the fall, and I couldn't stop raving about it. If you aren't familiar with these coffee makers, you can make one cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa at a time with this machine. You use K-cups for your grounds, and there's no mess. It is absolutely amazing. So, when I start to get drowsy in the winter, I can now easily and quickly make myself a little coffee. While I'm waiting for the cup to brew, I can do a few stretches to help my "sitting" and "writing" muscles.

2. Honeywell Space Heater: Not that you have to have a Honeywell space heater--any space heater will do, but I love this one because it has a thermostat. It shuts off when it reaches the temperature that you want. It also shuts off if it is picked up or knocked over, like when my puppy, who likes to lay right in front of it, gets too close and hits it with his leg. I'm not sure how my brain works; but when my body's warmer, I write better. I just do. So, this heater helps me write through the winter blahs.

3. Bath and Body Works Wallflower Fragrance Bulbs: Smelling something good helps me feel more energetic when the day is gray. Maybe it's because my sense of smell is trying to make up for my sense of sight and tired brain. I love candles; but sometimes, they make me nervous when I'm shuffling a bunch of papers around on my desk. So, I also like these Bath and Body Works Wallflower Fragrance Bulbs that you plug into the wall, and they fill your office or living room (where ever you write) with any smell that motivates you. I like tropical, fruity smells--coconut scents remind me of suntan lotion, which reminds me of summer!

LuAnn also just talked about getting motivated for 2010 in her great blog post on Christmas Eve. If you are feeling the winter blahs, read "Maintain Motivation in 2010," and use some of these tips, too.

How about you? Do you have some sure fire way to work through the winter blahs and keep writing?

Happy Winter Writing!
Margo Dill
"Read These Books and Use Them"

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Thursday, December 11, 2008


Essentials for Cold Weather Writing

"Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful...and since we have no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow..."

When the weather gets cold, I become somewhat of a bear. All I want to do is hibernate! Admittedly, it’s not very cold where I live in California, so I shouldn’t be complaining, but it still gets down to 40 degrees at night, which is cold for me. All I want to do is snuggle under the covers in bed with some hot cocoa and watch the tube. This would be okay if I had a laptop, but I don’t, so I have to trudge downstairs to my office and try to get motivated.

To beat the cold and get more writing done, I employ a few necessary items:

1. Coffee maker with a timer.

Right when I get up I want to be able to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee to get me going. This is especially important in the winter because my kitchen is so cold! I live in a loft with wide open space and concrete you can imagine. Having the coffee ready for me saves a few extra minutes normally spent standing on kitchen tile.

I may be in need of an upgrade though. I’ve had the same coffee maker forever, and it’s starting to lose its punch. Now they have all these super fast brewing digital-techie ones that are very reasonable in price, especially if you use them as much as I do. I found this one by Cuisinart that’s received really good ratings on both Amazon and Consumer Reports.
(Cuisinart DCC-1200 12-Cup Brew Central Coffeemaker - $72.94)

2. Space heater.

Luckily my office is carpeted and fairly small, so having a little digital space heater with controlled temperature settings at my feet keeps my tootsies warm. I have a couple of these in rooms where I can use the extra heat. The ones I have are the older versions of the one I picked out on your left. They’re super quiet and come with a fan if you want the heat blown directly on you. You can set the temperature and it’ll maintain that level for you. I love that this one is energy efficient! You know how costly those electric bills can be in the winter.
(Holmes Energy-Efficient Heater Fan - $29.94)

3. Faux fur blanket.

If it works for the Eskimos...

I love my faux fur blanket! I keep it in my office to cover my legs or wrap it around my chair and shoulders.

You can find these anywhere, but here are some cute ones from Pottery Barn. These are on sale right now for $99, but you can certainly find them for less at many other places, like JC Penny or Target.

4. Knitted scarves.

There is one thing about the cold weather I truly enjoy--being able to wear uber-cute hand-knitted scarves. The bright colors add a dash of style and warmth to your drab winter ensemble. And who says I can’t look cute even if I’m just sitting behind my computer writing?

There are so many great places to find these gems, but if you’re looking for something special, check out etsy. Individual crafters hand-make the products and most of them are one-of-a-kind. The one in the picture is a delicious pumpkin cable twist scarf made by the seller bombshellstudios.

5. Hot teas.

Drinking hot tea throughout the day will help heat your inner core and add a pinch of spice to your writing. You can find great wonderful blends at Special Teas or Adagio Teas. Some interesting teas to consider for the holidays are: candy apple, candy cane, chestnut, cranberry, gingerbread, and pumpkin spice. I personally love traditional teas like earl grey, green tea, jasmine, and oolong tea.

6. Body butter for dry winter skin.

My skin tends to dry up and get itchy during the cold winter months--it’s enough to drive you nuts! So having the right lotion or body balm will help sooth your nerves while writing. One of my very favorite products is Camille Beckman’s line of glycerin lotions. The body butter and hand therapy lotions are my favorite in French vanilla. It seriously smells like fresh baked cookies. It’s so good. It contains glycerin, vitamin E, aloe vera, wheat protein, almond oil and plant extracts. To this day, I still haven’t found a lotion quite as good. It helps sooth and protects my skin against harsh elements and stops the itching so I can concentrate. Visit Camille Beckman Online.

Other necessities include:

Layers! Hoodies, fuzzy slippers, beanies, and gloves with the fingertips cut off for typing.

Exercise. Get out from behind the computer screen and move around. Get your heart pumping and your circulation will follow. If I’m working on a project for the long haul, I make sure I get up at least every hour from the computer and run upstairs, do some quick housework, or take a walk. Good for the body and mind. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to work.

Crock pot cooking. Fill your crock pot with all the yummy ingredients you have to create stews. It’s easy cooking and smells wonderful.

Candles. I love to burn candles in my office to create a soothing atmosphere. They also help warm up those cold fingertips. Pick spicy scents for the winter months and citrus-y scents to get you motivated.

I hope these tips will help you break out from hibernation and get back to writing. They are probably something you’re doing already, but it’s a good reminder, and lets you know you are not alone! Cold weather writing can be dreary and seem like a chore, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make it fun. I’d love to know what motivates you to write during the cold weather, or what products and goodies you use to keep warm.

Do you have some tips you can share? Your comments are welcome ;)

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