GUEST POST: Staying Productive in the Cold

Snowy Greensburg J.D. Cook

Welcome J. D. COOK, a fellow student at Seton Hill University. It gets pretty chilly in January during residency in Greensburg, PA, but J. D. sees some benefits. Read on!

“Staying Productive in the Cold”

By: J.D. Cook

This past January the Seton Hill Writers in Popular Fiction Residency reached sub-zero temperatures. There was some delightful snow and ice on top of that. Additionally, my hotel sat on a large hill, the city of Greensburg is filled with hills, and Seton Hill is, obviously, on a hill. Suffice it to say; my car did a fair amount of sliding. I may or may not have seen my life flash before my eyes a few times, but when all was said and done, I managed to make a productive week of it. How is that, do you ask?

Low Temps J.D. Cook

Well, since it was so cold no one wanted to spend a lot of time outdoors. Networking was at a minimum, and I only went out to eat with friends once. So, I did what any writer should do when trapped by nasty weather. I wrote. I didn’t outline any new novels, and I didn’t make any major plot breakthroughs, but I did grind away at some revision ideas. Additionally, I accomplished something I’m not sure I’ve ever really done before.

I wrote, read, and got assignments done while away from the comfort zone of my desk. Most writers should be familiar with the odd sense of Zen that pervades their desk. I’ve taken this to a ridiculous extreme by refusing to part with the desk I’ve written on since middle school. It’s a little beat up, but I’ve done my best work on it by golly. So, you can understand how big of an accomplishment this was for me.

While writing away from my desk was new for me, the wintry weather was not. I hail from the mountain town of Hazleton, which is one of the highest elevated cities in the state. The thing about the extreme cold is that you have no excuse not to hunker down and focus on your writing, or reading. You can’t say, but it’s such a lovely day, and I need to be seizing it. You can’t say that you should be seeing that movie everyone’s discussing. No, you are stuck inside, and as long as you don’t go all ‘Jack Torrance in the Shining’ on anyone, you should be able to get whatever you need to do done. It can be incredibly relaxing just to let go of the outside world for a few hours and focus on a single thing in your house, or in my case a hotel room.  Then, when you come out of your isolation, you’ll leave with a newfound sense of accomplishment.

Overall, the January Residency is usually freezing. It’s a good counterpoint to the June Residency, which is carefree and warm. In January you get to spend more time doing the dirty work of writing. You get to hunker over a hotel room desk doing work. There’s something just as wonderful about that as there is about mingling with my fellow writers, but I could still do without the icy roads.

J. D. Cook Headshot

-J.D. Cook is a Creative Writer in Training. If you are interested in learning more about his journey check out

Thanks, J. D.

Be well, write well!




Joy E. Held is the author of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity, a college educator, blogger, and yoga/meditation teacher. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Romance Writers Report, Dance Teacher Now, Yoga Journal, and Woman Engineer Magazine.

Photo: K. Held

Photo: J. D. Cook

Copyright 2018, Joy E. Held