Express Yourself

How to Survive a Creative Winter

Sometimes, being a writer means letting go of your goals

Carly J Hallman
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readMar 24, 2021
Laptop open on a desk with lamp, wintry landscape outside the window.
Photo: Justin Kauffman/Unsplash

We hear it incessantly: We’re living in unprecedented times. Something we hear just as often but talk about a lot less is this: We’re all under constant pressure to use this unprecedented time. Everyone, it seems, has been taking up hobbies, baking banana bread, nurturing houseplants and sourdough starters, developing and fine-tuning complex skin care routines. Time is a gift, and who are we to waste it?

By all accounts, this past year should’ve been a boom time for creatives. While we were once expected to pick out outfits and commute and dine in restaurants and attend friends’ gigs and birthday parties, we’re now miraculously free. Nothing on the calendar except the occasional Zoom call. Untold hours of potential creation dropped into our laps.

On writerly corners of social media, I’ve read countless success stories from scribes who’ve seized the day that turned into weeks, months, a year. Anyone who’s anyone has grabbed their shutdown time by the horns, penning multiple screenplays, poetry collections, that novel they always dreamed of writing.

While I’m happy for these strangers, I can’t help but feel there are many more of us out there who’ve had the opposite experience. Those of us who’ve achieved absolutely nothing of creative substance. Those of us for whom this time has passed in a blur of anxiety, work deadlines, childcare woes, health problems, family issues, financial insecurity, boredom, Netflix binges, internet rabbit holes.

As human beings, we love to swan around pretending that we’re above it all. But no matter how much we resist the classification, we’re essentially animals, part of the natural order of things. And like the world around us, our lives have seasons — why wouldn’t they?

In her brilliant memoir Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, Katherine May writes about the importance of honoring periods of dormancy. Wintering, she writes, “is a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider.” Anyone who’s experienced a bereavement, breakup, illness…



Carly J Hallman
Human Parts

Just another 30-something writing about the internet, nostalgia, culture, entertainment, and life. Author, screenwriter, copywriter.