5 reasons to stop writing and get outside (yes, in February!)


Yesterday was Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow. According to tradition, that means spring is coming early!

It doesn’t exactly look like it yet. Here in the Midwest, a winter storm just dumped a foot of snow in less than 24 hours, and I know we’re not the only ones still seeing white.

Whether you live in a snowy place or just have cooler temps now than normal, the idea of winter is still present, begging you to curl up with a warm cup of tea or hot chocolate and read and write the short days away. That’s good! But it’s also good to get out of that cozy chair and step out the door, no matter what the weather is doing.

Do it right now. Take a break from that great novel you’re reading or writing, and get out there—the more uncomfortable the weather, the better! I promise that this is constructive, not just crazy. Check out these five reasons for getting out of the house and then make it happen.

1: Give your eyes a break.

If winter means that all of your non-work hours are going into reading, writing, and Netflix, you’re putting a lot of strain on your eyes. Don’t take them for granted! Even with glasses, I’ve found that too much time spent in front of a screen gives me eye pain, headaches, and increased irritability. It will do your head wonders to get outside, where you can let your eyes adjust to better lighting and a greater range of focal points.

2: Give your circulation a boost.

Sitting for long periods is not good for your circulation, and that little twinge in your hand or leg isn’t going to just go away on its own. Winter encourages us all to embrace hibernation, but this arrangement can wreak havoc on your system! Unlike Phil, you are not a groundhog. Running up and down the stairs every half hour will help a little bit, but why not add some fresh air to the mix? Get your heart pumping, your lungs filling, and your limbs loosening, and things will hurt a lot less in the long run.

3: Shock your system.

If it’s really cold or snowy where you live, bite the bullet and get outside. If it’s only mildly colder than normal where you live, try stepping out the door in summer clothes. Either way, feel that winter air! It’s not going to be comfortable at first, but that’s the point. Embrace it. Shake up your routine. Get out of your comfort zone. By letting your body reset, you’ll also reset your mind and be ready to get back to work with a fresh look at what you’re doing. There’s nothing like freezing air or a cold rain to wake you up!

4: Live a new story.

Wherever you live, go experience February. What makes it different than August? How are the people around you spending the winter? What unique opportunities or challenges force you to change things up? You can’t write living characters unless you yourself are willing to inhabit the world around you. Go live. Make your own life a winter story, and use what you learn to become a better writer.

5: Take some photos.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For writers, a picture can easily inspire a thousand words. Go outside and pay attention to the little visual details. How does the silhouette of a leafless tree seem to you? Are there bushes bent under the weight of ice and snow? What does it look like for city lights to shine over a frozen lake? What kind of dirty puddles does February produce? Take a photo log of what February looks like and save it—those details are the ones that make our world real, and you can use them to create reality in writing, too.

Do it now.

You can’t fool me; I know you’re on the internet right now. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this post! It’s time to get offline and step out your door. What does February 3rd look like where you are? Describe it in the comments below, or tweet your pictures @ekbuege. I’ve posted mine below.

Remember, winter isn’t the time for readers and writers to quit living in the real world; it’s the time for us to remember just how important it is.


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