Cold Cleaning: What to Work on When You’re Snowed in By Tiffany Turpin Johnson

snowed-in-house-16214-1920x1080-1024x576Welcome back to Tiffany Turpin Johnson, a kidlit writer and editor whose monthly column, Scribe Supplies: Writerly Tools for Success, brings you the best in all types of tools for professional writers. Today she shares her tips for making the best of winter storms and what to work on for writers when you’re snowed in. Enjoy!



Admit it: You kinda like being snowed in. We live fast-paced lives that sometimes move even faster when we leave our day jobs at night and take on the duties of our families and homes, so it can be nice to have a forced break from the daily grind. But what if you want to use that time for your second job: writing? Below are some ideas for keeping busy when winter storms keep you homebound.

Back up. Maybe you never had time to back up your data. Or maybe you picked a computer known to rarely crash. These excuses won’t work anymore. When you find yourself snowed in, you suddenly have hours, maybe even days, of time to fill, and nowhere to run off to. And every computer crashes eventually. If you haven’t done this already, your first snow day project should be to invest in a good hard drive—or at the very least a good cloud account or two—and back up all your important data. Trust me, you don’t want to spend two full days snapping at everyone who talks to you while you run around performing CPR on your laptop.

Clean up. Once you’ve got the important stuff backed up, delete whatever you no longer need. You’ll not only make room on your hard drive, but in your brain as well. And both might just work a little faster afterward.

Read. This is something we never seem to have time for, yet it’s one of the most important things we can do for our writing. Is there a writing craft book collecting dust on your shelf? A classic you’ve always meant to read? A new release from your favorite writer? Light a candle and cuddle up. You’ve got nothing but time.

Edit. I can hear the groans already. But really, what better time is there to do the dreaded task of editing than the uninterrupted few days of weather-imposed house arrest?

Write. It shouldn’t even bear saying, but because I frequently have this issue myself, I’ll say it anyway. Other than backing up your data, writing is the most important project you can take on over your snow days. All of the other projects listed—including the data backup—serve just to support your writing, so whatever you do while you’re home, WRITE.

Muse. If you can’t manage anything else—if you have several small children snowed in as well, for example (like me)—then the least you can do is collect inspiration for your writing. Sometimes all that means is being present in your world. Engage. Build snowmen (or icemen) with your kids. Make hot cocoa and sip around the fire. Live your life and take notes for the lives of your characters.

How do you like to spend your snow days? Tell us in the comments!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tiffany Turpin Johnson is a novelist represented by Annie Bomke Literary Agency, and operates TJ Writeography, a freelance writing and photography service. She regularly contributes to various blogs, and serves as Senior Editor for Entranced Publishing and Assistant Editor for Compose Literary Journal. Find her at and on Twitter at @Fictiffous.


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