If you haven’t written by candlelight at least once in your lifetime then shame on you!
Do any of you remember that stupid KFC commercial? You know, the one where a family is enjoying a candlelit dinner during a power outage? With storm raging outside, the father brings a bucket of KFC home to his family. They all sit there laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Suddenly, the power comes back on. Fun over. What is the father’s solution? Turn the lights back off of course!
One of my favourite ways to get my creative juices flowing is writing in quiet candlelight. I turn off every electronic device I own. I pull out a pad of paper, a loyal pen and find all the candles we have in the house. Time doesn’t seem to exist anymore. I am alone with my story, and that’s all that matters.
There is something inherently magical about writing in candlelight. It’s a return to absolute simplicity. The candle reaches only you, and your paper. The world outside is now shrouded in darkness. You and your craft are finally alone.
Lovers shut off the lights, and hide away from the world to be with each other. If you don’t want to know every intimate detail of your story, then why are you writing?
Prepare an evening for yourself and wait for nightfall. Turn off your cellphone, your computer, and your television sets. Don’t listen to your iPods, don’t leave the phone on the hook, and turn off absolutely every freaking electronic device.
Congratulations. You are now completely alone with your story.
Terrified? Don’t worry. In the silence and stillness of your work, a candle can light up your creativity. It is a visual reminder that we as artists always keep a candle burning for our craft. A writer never stops thinking about writing.
Be alone with your story. Calm your inner distractions, and focus on the writing task at hand.
Let creativity be your vigil.
Light a candle.
For me, hearing myself utter the words “I’m bored” is horrifying. If I’m bored, then why aren’t I using the time to write? How did I get so distracted from my craft that I have to utter the words “I’m bored” !?!
The fact of the matter is, there are times when I’m exactly like that. There are also times, when I don’t know the next step in my story, and I need to take some time to figure it out.
One of the greatest gifts my mother gave me as a kid was the “I’m bored” jar. It was an ordinary canning jar, but on the inside, there were dozens of little papers that had suggestions as to how I could eliminate my boredom. But sometimes, when the suggestions were something along the lines of “clean the bathroom”, I was less inclined to do them. Yet, I found myself doing them anyway. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps I was a mental kid, but there is something commanding about a piece of paper that has an answer to your boredom.
Writers, I give you the “I’m bored jar” … for your craft. Inside, you can write any number of possible suggestions you can come up with to nourish your creative boredom. Here is a list of examples of what you can write inside:
No matter what suggestion you pick out, there will always be something to feed your creativity. If you write them yourself, you usually start to have an idea of what you want to do the most – and by all means go ahead and do that very thing. The point of this jar, is to get you to exercise your creative muscles when you just don’t know what to do.
TASK: Set aside 20-30 minutes, and write down as many suggestions for your writing life as you can think of. Take a moment to find an old jar, label it however you see fit, and fill it to the top. At the end of this task, open the jar, take out one suggestion, and do what it tells you. I promise it won’t be in vain.