In the winter months, it can be a challenge to find the motivation to write. The landscape in many places has little variation in a monochromatic palette of grays and whites. It is hard to get out of bed before the sun rises to get in some quality writing time. But the joyful practice of hygge counteracts the dark cold days.
Hygge (pronounced hue-gah or hoo-gah, depending on where you live) is a feeling of coziness and contentment in the present moment. The word first appeared in old Norwegian and is a way of life in Denmark. Creating a ritual around brewing a cup of tea, lighting a candle, or gathering near a fire to enjoy a treat are all ways to embrace hygge.
Cozy Up to Research
Canadian author Louise Penny was asked at a book signing if she created the recipes for the bed and breakfast in her series. She described how she sits in front of the fireplace, blanket across her lap, with a stack of cookbooks. She pulls one from the stack, asks herself “What would I like to eat today?” and types up a menu.
Create a cozy space for writing and research. Pile up the soft blankets and pull on your fuzzy socks or warmest slippers. Light the fireplace or a favorite candle to brighten your spirits and your workspace.
Bring the Outdoors In
During the dormant season, there are few visual cues from nature to mark the progression of time. But you can grow some plants indoors to bring in cheer. It is rewarding to see a plant grow from the beginning, a process similar to writing. At first, it looks like nothing is happening. But then a little sprout appears. With encouragement and the right nutrients, it will grow leaves and branches. Seemingly overnight, it becomes a fully-formed plant, but the process has been happening all along.
Amaryllis plants are my favorite for watching a plant’s progress every day, and their color adds a spark of life to any space. Or pick up a pine cone on a walk in the forest. Sprinkle some water on it each day. In time, you will see the sprouts of baby pine trees grow from your pine cone.
Create Your Own Sunny Scene
In the movie Christmas in Connecticut, Elizabeth Lane writes a column for a women’s housekeeping magazine. She describes the good cedar logs crackling in the fire while looking out at the landscape of her farm. In reality, she looks out at the clothes flapping on the clothesline from her New York apartment while the steam radiator hisses under the window.
Imagine a scene for your character where they are relaxing in warm weather. Or use a flash fiction prompt to conjure a setting that creates a feeling of contentment.
Part of hygge is enjoying a treat and sharing with others. I love cooking with citrus this time of year. I can taste the sunshine in the lemons from their months of growing during the summer. Friends love the baked treats from lemons in my backyard.
Get creative in the kitchen and try ingredients or a cooking technique from the era of your book. Or invent something new (butterbeer, anyone?). Emerge from your writing bubble to share what you’ve created with others.
Take a Tea Break
Tea time is perfect for hygge. The warmth, fragrance, and ritual of brewing tea all bring a feeling of coziness and contentment. When selecting a tea, choose spices and scents from nature to suit the day’s mood. Chai and peppermint energize, while lemon and ginger create a soothing blend of uplifting and calm.
Before taking a sip, close your eyes and inhale the fragrance. Feel the warmth of the steam on your face and the cup between your hands. As you sip your tea, create a narrative of the journey the tea leaves made on the way to your cup. Picture the source of water that nourished its roots, the sun exposure, and the other plants that influenced the leaves or flowers. Enjoy the revitalization of your well-being and creativity on a chilly day.
Try one of these simple ways to bring in hygge and you will be inspired to write. Embrace the opportunity to be tucked in, focused on your work. Every season has a purpose, and winter allows us to quietly recharge. Bring in some cheer and you will be surprised at how much you have accomplished when spring returns.
Tell us in the comments: How did these hygge practices work for you?
Ambre Dawn Leffler is a Tai Chi instructor, gardener, and weather geek who writes about vegetables, seasons, communing with nature, and the interconnections of mind/body. She loves trees and cherishes time in their presence. Learn more about her tree time, garden residents, and wellness practices at her website ambredawnleffler.com and seasonal inspiration from her newsletter https://ambredawn.ck.page/newsletter-page