The winter season may evoke mixed emotions for you as a writer, depending on where you live and your experiences. But these winter writing prompts for adults AND for kids can help you explore this season and make the most of your winter months.
I grew up in the mountains of Arizona where we had snow each winter (and sometimes into spring). As an elementary age child, I'd listen to the weather forecast when snow was coming, waiting for the magic number: 5,500 feet. That was the elevation in our little mountain town, and as soon as the newscaster said “snow down to 5,500 feet tomorrow,” we'd cross our fingers and hope enough fell in the night for a snow day.
As an adult, I experience winter much differently. When my family has lived in places that get a good amount of snow, the logistics of transportation, snow gear, and disrupted activities can be inconvenient. A snow day means something entirely different to a mother with four children who are suddenly all underfoot or running in and out of the snow.
I read Katherine May's book Wintering last year, and it gave me a new perspective on this season that is so often depicted as “dead time.” Nature knows that you can't rush winter. It provides much needed rest. The work done in the soil each winter, down in the dark while the branches of trees are bare, that work will nourish the growth all spring.
So in the spirit of finding ways to be present in our current season, let's use this time to collect some creative seeds that we can nurture and grow through the spring and summer this year.
Winter Journal Prompts
1. When you hear the word “winter,” what images come to mind? Try to capture winter time images using your best descriptive writing.
2. How did you (or do you) experience winter break? Is it a needed rest from school or work? A high season in your business?
3. How do you participate in outdoor activities in winter? If you avoid them, describe why and when your avoidance began. Or if you love them, journal about your favorites and any you'd still like to try.
4. Describe your family traditions in winter.
5. What remedies do you depend on when you get the winter blues? How do they help?
6. What is your favorite winter holiday and why? Or if you could create a new winter holiday what would it be?
7. How do you make quality time for your writing (or any activity important to you) in the winter?
8. What do you dread most about winter? Why?
9. Do you keep a decorated house during the winter months? Or prefer to declutter and simplify? Why?
10. How might you nurture rest for yourself this winter? What activities can you start or stop to promote a calm life?
Winter Story Starters
11. The window during winter was always more dangerous…
12. Winter was particularly good at hatching villains in the tiny village, and this year was no different as…
13. The snow covered the landscape and would have looked peaceful, except…
14. A snowstorm was the perfect time to…
15. It was a cold and stormy night, and she couldn't…
16. He'd finally escaped winter, or so he thought…
17. Every winter, she sat in the big empty house waiting, knowing that one day…
18. It was the biggest snow they'd had in a hundred years. Too bad they'd lost…
19. The winter wonderland carnival had finally been shut down, but not before…
20. When the blanket of snow melted, she knew nothing would be the same again…
Prompts for Cold Weather
21. Write about your dream winter vacation. (Even if it includes leaving the cold weather!)
22. What is your favorite delicious winter recipe for those chilly winter days? When did you first have or make it?
23. Describe the night sky on a perfectly clear cold night. (Or in the middle of a storm)
24. Look up a few classic winter poems and describe how the poet captures the tone of winter. Which words and phrases do they use? Try your hand at a few lines. (Some suggested poems: “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, “Walking in Winter” by Sylvia Plath, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, or “To a Wreath of Snow” by Emily Bronte.)
25. Imagine you could designate your own personal snow day any day of the season—whether it snowed or not. What would you do?
26. The colder months often have longer nights and shorter days. What do you like to do in winter that you maybe don't do in spring, summer, or fall?
27. What is your favorite thing to wear in cold weather? Why?
28. What do most people misunderstand about the cold or winter in general?
29. What is your favorite drink in cold weather and why? What do you avoid drinking when it's cold out and why?
30. If you had to do a cold winter in one place each year for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?
20 Fun Winter Writing Prompts for Kids
If you live in a colder climate, you may find that you have additional time indoors to fill with the kids in your life. Here's a list of winter writing prompts especially for kids to keep them practicing their writing skills while they stay inside and warm!
1. Describe a perfect winter scene.
2. If you could create a new favorite winter activity, what would it be and why?
3. Write a story about a kid who receives magic snow boots.
4. Imagine that you and a friend made snow angels, and awoke to see them alive in the yard dancing. What do you do?
5. Build an acrostic poem using your favorite winter word such as WINTER, MITTEN, or SNOWMAN.
6. Winter animals like polar bears and snow leopards thrive in the snow. Find a book or information about a winter animal and record your favorite facts about them.
7. What are your favorite indoor activities during winter?
8. Imagine you built an amazing snow fort. What does it have?
9. Describe what it feels like to go ice skating for the first time (or what you imagine it feels like if you've never been).
10. You've just been given the job of clearing all the deep snow in your neighborhood. How will you do it?
11. Your aunt gave you an old snow globe, and one night as you shake it, you suddenly notice…
12. One cold winter afternoon, you walk home from school when you hear the crunch of snow footprints following you. What do you do?
13. A family of snowmen arrive at your school and ask to be hidden in the cafeteria freezer to survive spring. What happens?
14. Write about your favorite winter memory.
15. If you were put in charge of school during one day each winter, how would you change your school day?
16. Write a descriptive poem about some element of winter you enjoy. (Hint: use as many of the five senses as you can!)
17. If you had a winter birthday, what might you include at your party that wouldn't be available any other time of year?
18. Describe winter where you live in three sentences. Then, imagine a place where it is very different and describe it. (For example: if you live in a city, how is winter different there than maybe in the countryside? Or if you live where it doesn't snow, how is it different than in the places that get a lot of snow?)
19. If you could build one thing out of snow or ice, what would it be and why?
20. If you could plan an exciting winter game, activity, sport, or vacation, what would it be and how would you do it?
Start Your Winter Writing!
Hopefully some of those prompts will foster productive writing activities in the coming days, no matter the temperature where you live. Give them a try and see what you discover!
Choose one of the prompts above. Write for fifteen minutes. When you've finished your wintery writing prompt, I hope you'll share it in the Pro Practice Workshop and leave feedback for a few other writers too.
If you don't have a writing community, consider joining us this winter. The supportive environment and writing challenges will grow you as a writer and warm you this season!
Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveler with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website.