It doesn’t require a degree in meteorology to realize that weather affects many of our activities as well as our mood. Writing, as a hobby and certainly as an integral part of our professional routine, couldn’t be an exception.
On the surface, the influence of weather in our writing seems to be a matter of mood, and a fairly simple one: Good weather, good writing mood; foul weather, foul writing mood, right?
Well, no. It’s not that simple.
The complexity of the way weather affects our writing lies in the fact that there is a lot of subjectivity involved. Some of us like snow and winter; others prefer heat and summer. Indeed, most of us have varied responses to weather, our preferences depending on various factors, including how we feel on a given day, which complicates matters further.
Even then, we can actually leverage weather we don’t particularly like to produce texts of certain kinds, as I will show you in this post.
We would need a steampunk weather machine to … control the weather, but until one is available, we can opt for the next best thing: controlling how weather affects our writing.
As I’m typing this text, I’m on the balcony wearing shorts and a T-shirt, enjoying a flawless blue sky and sunshine. Sounds great, most of you will think. The one detail I forgot to mention is that I’m in Finland right now, and the temperature is a not-so-fast-mister 45 degrees °F, or about 7 °C.
You might wonder why on earth I chose to deliberately feel the chill, and the answer is: for the purposes of this post! A writer should have a firsthand knowledge of what they’re writing about, right?
Jokes aside, I’m sure many writers could relate to at least the first part of the equation: Blue skies and sunshine allow your mind to relax, your imagination to travel, and your creativity to flourish. For many authors, a summer vacation can be a great opportunity for some writing.
Again, however, I must underline the fact this is only one possible option; one that applies to me in particular, and arguably many other writers, but not everyone. I know at least one author who hates sunshine and is at her best when it’s dark and dreary, rainy and gray.
When it comes to weather and writing, the trick is to understand what works for you.
Generally speaking, you should then aim to plan your writing schedule creating a context where the weather would be compatible with your mental responses.
To put it simply, if you like sunshine and the forecast promises clear skies for next week, try to create opportunities for you to write right then. Ideally, you would want to do it in a way that actually allows you to experience the weather—no point aiming for sunshine if you’re stuck in a windowless study, right?
Conversely, if you prefer overcast and rain, you would want to shape your writing schedule around that. Obviously, you can’t take the laptop outdoors to type in the downpour, but you could sit in front of a window, pull the curtains aside, and watch the rivulets on the panes with the gray clouds in the background.
Such habits can improve your productivity in a general manner, by improving your mood. But remember, we’re only scratching the surface. Weather and writing work in more complex ways than just that, as I’ll show you next.
As writers, we often need to simply perform: For fiction writers, it could involve writing a chapter that’s simply needed to advance the story. For nonfiction, it might mean composing an introduction that needs to be there. In both cases—and many others like them—writing can feel a bit mechanical, hard to be inspired by.
Although you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself—just avoiding procrastination is a small but significant step forward—at the same time it’s equally important to find ways to deal with lack of inspiration.
On such occasions, what the writer needs is a little emotional kick.
I generally prefer sunshine and clear skies. For me, as a writer, it improves my mood and creativity. But there are some things I write better with rainy weather.
In its simplest iteration, if as a fiction writer I plan to write a scene occurring on a gray, rainy day, it helps my creativity to actually be in such a context myself. So I focus on other scenes, waiting for some overcast—which is usually just around the corner; hey, it’s Finland we’re talking about.
Still, a writer could go even deeper with this little mood modifier.
What if I planned to write a scene that, regardless of its weather, is supposed to be sad, gloomy, or dreary? Writing that scene when it’s rainy and gray would work much better for that, as such weather would make me feel down, bored, and downcast.
The truth is, we use such mood modifiers all the time, sometimes without even noticing. Many authors use music or sound effects—for instance, the sound of rain, waves, or birds chirping—to get into a particular frame of mind for writing.
Anything that can get you into the “right” mood—here defined as the mood appropriate for the text you have in mind—is an important tool, and weather is no exception.
Of course, as I mentioned above, you might actually prefer dreary, rainy weather. In that case, the scenario would be reversed for you: If sunny and hot weather makes you feel oppressed and grumpy, and the scene you’re working on involves negative emotions, it would work well if you saved those scenes for such weather. Overall, the trick is to understand your emotional reaction to weather and adapt your writing patterns to it.
Even if you write nonfiction, the same method works: You can leverage weather you don’t like to feel the emotional kick I mentioned above, pushing you to bring life to your text. Many writers seem to ignore one detail about mood and writing—of all kinds:
As a writer, feeling down is better than feeling nothing.
I wish there were a weather machine, I truly do. In southern Finland, where I live, it rains 50% of the year—and I estimate another 35% is overcast. For someone who spent the first two decades of his life in Greece, where it’s sunny 65% of the year, you could guess why such a weather machine would come in handy.
But we need to work with what we have; a writer needs to be creative, after all. So if we can’t have the weather we like, we can at least learn to use it for our writing purposes.
In its simplest form, using weather for writing is a matter of mood: Generally, we tend to be more productive when we’re in a good mood, and weather definitely affects that. However, as I showed you in this post, we can also learn to leverage weather we don’t like to achieve specific writing goals.
Creativity and writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, are a matter of emotions; it’s better to feel something a bit negative than not feel anything at all. If “bad” weather makes you feel grumpy, you can learn to channel the feeling into your writing, turning “bad” weather into “good.” There’s your very own weather machine!
Chris Angelis has a PhD in English literature from the University of Tampere. Besides his academic research in Gothic/horror & science fiction literature, he is also a writer of literary fiction, and the owner of a literature blog, Home For Fiction. Furthermore, he develops programs focusing on literature, writing, and texts in general. Chris is a senior content editor for Craft Your Content.