Teen Breathe

Creative writing activities for autumn and winter

Creative writing can be a wonderful way to reconnect with nature and its mood-boosting qualities, help to hone descriptive skills and open your eyes to the beauty of the world around you, whatever the weather. So, get cosy indoors or wrap up warm for a walk and try the exercises below.
WORDS: Kate Orson

Why it’s tempting to give up on nature in cold weather

Each season brings with it a changed landscape. With the brown, gold and red leaves of autumn gone, there are bare trees, and shorter days as winter sets in. The natural world seems still and quiet, with birds having flown south. It can feel like a time of absence, of waiting or struggling through the cold, dark mornings.

It’s easy to forget about nature in this time, retreating to books, screens and sitting by the fire or under a blanket through the long evenings. On the shortest days, you might even miss daylight entirely, relying on artificial lights and barely seeing the sun.

Nevertheless, spending moments outdoors can lift chilled spirits and allow appreciation of the warmth inside.

Why freewriting is a perfect winter writing exercise

Freewriting is a way of freeing up your mind by writing fast, without worrying about spelling, punctuation or grammar, or even if your sentences make sense. You could try this exercise inside, by a window, or outside if you’re wrapped up warm. Fingerless gloves are great for winter writing.

Write down all the thoughts that come to mind when you think about winter. Do you love it or hate it? What are your favourite winter activities? Do you enjoy time spent outside in nature or prefer to be curled up inside? What are your favourite winter memories?

How writing at dawn or dusk can prove inspirational

Winter is a chance to witness those magical times between day and night when the colours of the world look different. The website timeanddate.com will give you the exact time each day for sunrise and sunset in your area.

You could set an alarm on your phone to go off at dawn or dusk. Open your door a crack or look out through a window. Write down rough notes of everything you can see. What words would you use to describe the faint light of dawn and dusk? What thoughts do you have as you look out at the sky or landscape?

Later, you could rewrite your notes and turn them into a poem or paragraph of description.

How to stimulate your creativity with a winter walk

The crunch of leaves, the dim light and the bare trees all have their own beauty. Take a winter walk somewhere surrounded by nature. It could be a stroll through a forest, a park or along a tree-lined street.

As you walk, keep a record in your mind, make voice notes on a phone or write in a notebook. What do you notice? What sights and sounds tell you it’s winter? What can you smell? When you get home, write down what you remember and any other thoughts and reflections.

How window watching can aid your creative writing

‘Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home,’ said British poet and critic Edith Sitwell.

Looking out on cold days offers an added appreciation of the cosy warmth inside. Choose a window somewhere that gives you a good view. It could be one in your house or in a café, school or library. Look outside and write down what you see and any thoughts that pop into your mind. How does it feel to be inside in the warmth as opposed to outside in the cold?

How to use winter sounds for inspiration

This season can be a time of quiet. Birds fly south, animals hibernate, people hide away inside, silent snow falls and rivers are frozen still. At other times, winter can bring the loud roar of a storm or torrential rain.

Take a moment to step outside or open a window and listen. Be still and take in the sounds. What other thoughts enter your mind as you’re listening? After a few moments, write down what you noticed.

How to write about the first signs of spring

It may still be winter, but at some point, there’ll be the moment you spy spring. Maybe it’ll be a bud on a tree or a snowdrop bursting up through the ground. When you notice your first early sign of spring, get ready to write!

In the words of British romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley:

‘O, Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’

Describe the small details of what you can see and how it feels to notice this signal that winter is on its way out and spring will soon be here.

You can read more articles about creativity in the latest issue of Teen Breathe magazine.