Home / Tricks of the Trade / Why creatives need winter

Summer gets all the good press. Sunshine, flip-flops, and convertibles. Longer days and warm nights. Outdoor adventures of all kinds, from camping in the wilderness to partying on patios.

Most of us are fans of spring and fall, too (unless you have allergies, of course). Spring bursts with blooms and fall flares with color—nature picking up her paintbrush to dazzle us.

But aside from the holidays, winter gets the shaft in our collective consciousness. The combination of short, dreary days and long, cold nights fills us with dread. Going anywhere is a drag and staying productive is a struggle.

But I’m blogging here to tell you that winter is actually the best season for creatives. And here’s why you should embrace the darkness.

Darker, colder weather creates monsters (in a good way).

Ever heard of Frankenstein? Well, that story wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for a volcano. (Stick with me, and it will all make sense in a minute.)

Mount Tambora exploded in the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history in April 1815—shrouding the planet in ash and lowering global temperatures for several years. The next year was known as the “Year without a Summer”—triggering extreme weather and harvest failures around the world. That dark, cold, stormy summer, a few friends, including the poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley and their significant others, were on holiday at their lakeside villa near Geneva and challenged each other to write the best scary story. That simple challenge is what prompted Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein.

(No, I didn’t make that up—it’s a well-known origin story. I also think we can all agree that Mary totally owned those guys.)

The point is that being holed up for an extended period can help spark creativity. The cold weather outside often brings people inside to spend more time together and inspire each other. It also draws us inside to direct more time and energy inward and rest—which is beneficial for us in a different way, too.

Ancient Chinese medicine says winter is good for you.

According to ancient Chinese medicine—still in practice today—it’s important to live in harmony with the seasons, changing our habits as the weather changes to create more balance in our lives. Winter represents Yin, which is most associated with kidney health. Rest is essential for revitalizing the kidneys, and it’s a time to look inward and reflect—so meditation, writing, and other creative-flow activities are best at this time of year. Not only could this help spark new ideas now, but it could also replenish you for added brilliance later.

This ancient wisdom also states that making choices to take care of your Yin is especially important if your Jing (your bone health) is depleted from prolonged stress, lack of sleep, working long hours, drinking too much—you know, agency life. So, maybe make this the season of Yin, not gin.

We spend so much of our time going and getting—and sometimes it’s best to be staying and stirring. That time is winter.

Quiet your mind. Warm your cockles. Let your ideas flow.

Happy winter!