Frozen in the Shed


The space heater chugs, strains, and is mostly worthless.

The bitter weather in the Midwest has limited my shed time. The heater emits warmth, but it’s not able to overcome temperatures that can’t reach beyond 6-degrees. There’s no fault in that; anyone can understand. I do not believe in writer’s block. Never have. But I’ve become so accustomed to writing in the shed that when the weather won’t permit it, I find myself frozen.

I stand inside and look around. What here might be damaged by the nights and days of record brutal cold? The books will be okay; the artwork will survive. Some stored coffee beans might not do well, so I gather them to place elsewhere. Pens, paper, notebooks—all good. I step out and pull the door tight. It creaks when it shuts.

I am the victim of a weather-induced exile. What to do?

I think of Thoreau.

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

I think of Hemingway.

“In order to write about life you must live it.”

And Kerouac.

“Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.”

Each one of these quotes came from questions about the writing life and in each case the writer reminds us that one must go out and live a life to be able to write about life. Experience. Love. Climb a mountain. Swim a sea. Cry. Laugh. Hurt. Praise. Fall down. Get up. Sail in the wind. Jump. Dance. Run. Walk in the woods. Sleep on the beach. Scare yourself. Embrace something bigger than you.

img_3212 (1)When writing, any creative process, is “frozen”—however you might define that—go live your life and do it without conditions. Do not fret that you are in an icy stall. Forget about it. Forget writing. It will be there when the world thaws, and your return will be richer, more meaningful because you have gone out into the world.

Writing is a singular process, a lonely one—one of deep, inner thoughts .

“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” —Pablo Picasso.

That may be true, but without a life worth living, a life away from writing and creative work,  how might creativity truly emerge.

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I lock the shed, hope for warmer days, and give my writing a rest. I have no big plans for experiments or adventures, but one never knows what a few days away from the keyboard just might bring.

Photo credit: Photo by Anders Wetterstam on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Frozen in the Shed

  1. Finding the right balance — now there’s the challenge. I see friends who appear to be living life to the hilt. And while I envy their abandon, I also see in it a sadness, a desperation as they try to rush toward an immortality they can never grasp. And in the process, they do not permit themselves the benefits of solitude and reflection. Living one’s life is admirable and necessary, but for me the creative interludes give it depth and richness that I would never trade.


    • Well said, my friend. I agree with you. I see people my age in full throttle sometimes. Not for me. I get mentally tired. I need space, air, nature, reading, writing. Oh sure, I’ll party for the best of them, but it’s few and far between. And I’m blessed to have a wife who sees life the same way.


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