I have the good fortune or the foresight to live in Tucson, Arizona. While the rest of the country was experiencing the worst winter in years, still is in places, I complained about 40 degree nights. Here, our winters are short (3-4 days) and the snow is on the top of nearby Mt. Lemmon where I can see it without having to shovel it. I have endured harsh winters – Chicago, Poconos in Pennsylvania, a Christmas visit to Detroit – so I know how it can affect your mental outlook. You have my deepest sympathy.
As a writer, it is often difficult enough to dredge up scenes from your mind in the best of circumstances. It is only made harder by the often oppressing gloom and darkness of winter. Oh, I know some people enjoy winter sports, but to me if a sport requires more than shorts and sandals, it’s too strenuous. Shirt, sweater, jacket, hooded parka, goggles, and two pair of pants smother the body. I prefer the beach or the pool, or on really cool days (70 degrees), the hot tub. Finding that perfect word or turn of a phrase while beating your arms across your body or holding your feet in front of the fireplace to stay warm doesn’t help. Cold weather slows the blood flow and causes ideas to crystallize between synapses instead of passing through them. Hot toddies or a shot of vodka can help, but too much drinking just lowers your body temperature, although it can often induce wonderful dreams..
Watching people search for beachfront property in Hawaii or other tropical locals on TV can help, but often just causes envy to rear its ugly head. I recently took a Mexican cruise. It was wonderful. NO cell phone, no computer, no news for seven days. Cleared my head. Not everyone can do this. So here’s an idea.
Close your eyes. Try to imagine you’re lying on a sandy beach – Tahiti, Cozumel, Bora Bora – drink in hand (Insert your preference). An umbrella stirrer with fruit would be a nice touch. A gentle warm breeze is blowing across your face. The sound of waves lapping the shore rhythmically lull you to a state of drowsiness. In the distance, a mariachi band or a steel band is playing softly. Perhaps some steel band Pink Floyd. Relaxed? Warm and cozy? Now, let your mind wander down tropical corridors lined with shelves of beautiful words. Reach out and grab the words. Taste them. They taste like pineapple or papaya. You smile. Now. allow your mind to roam freely. Ideas begin to flow. Words appear magically in your mind. Stories spring full blown from your fingertips. You are happy. You are content. You are warm.
Neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night … It works for writers as well. If your story’s environment can create conflict or add tension, surely your locale can too. Use your mind’s environment to control your environment. You can’t all move to Arizona. I won’t let you. It’s getting too crowded. I saw eight cars on the Interstate during rush hour. Someday, your location will warm again. Unless you live in Canada. There’s no hope for you Canadians.