Writing By Firelight

Last night I discovered a new tool: Writing by firelight. I’ve had this section of my WIP that I wanted to rewrite, but haven’t been able to find the right words. I’ve tried different strategies: timed writing, daydreaming, clustering, I’ve even tried to re-write this section while hanging out with my friends at an Oscar party. (Admittedly, this last method was not the smartest idea I’ve ever had. Though it might have been an effective use of my time, as I was really disappointed in this year’s telecast, for a number of reasons.)

But last night, I finally found the words. My sons were fast asleep; my husband was streaming Netflix. (It’s about time I let him have a turn.) I tossed another log into the fire; turned out the lights; and waited, pen in hand. And guess what? The words came.writing by firelight (2)
Pages and pages, just like this. A phrase here, an image there. A whole sentence tossed in for good measure. I wrote and wrote by the firelight; I couldn’t even see the words. And I think this was the key. Since I couldn’t see the words, all expectations were lifted. My inner editor–that loves to remind me that pesky little things such as continuity and coherency actually matter–was silenced, and I was free to scratch away without any expectations.

So that’s my lesson for today. Next time I’m creatively blocked, I’ll add some wood to the fireplace, and turn out the lights.

What about you? When you’re blocked on a project, whether it’s writing or another endeavor, how do you get past it?

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9 Responses to Writing By Firelight

  1. I have to get out and do something. See a movie. Stroll a bookstore. Do a puzzle with my kids. Things that make me use other parts of my brain but spark my creativity. I do love the writing by firelight idea though- gotta try that one! 🙂

    • It was really relaxing. And I knew I could ignore my journal pages if I woke up today not liking any of my words. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. I love the puzzle idea, I’ll have to try that one.

  2. I just may try this! Love your journal scratches too. I’m a walker. Which is ten times harder in the winter, but when I need to think I walk in circles around my court. Your idea sounds cozier.

    • At least we’re both in California! I can’t imagine taking tons of walks if we were in colder areas. I try to take walks sometimes, but I get distracted too easily. “Look, a tree! Look, a squirrel! Another tree!”

  3. Lori Clover says:

    I think just setting the mood can help to relax you and a nice glowing light from a crackling warm fire can do the trick! Maybe a glass of wine too 🙂 Glad it worked!!

  4. Do you write longhand? I miss writing longhand!!! I always feel like it takes too long, but honestly, nothing relaxes me more than writing with pen on paper. Typing a manuscript is a much more stressful, fast-paced experience!

  5. The first time, for me, was the day I sat down at the typewriter and wrote these three words: I am insane. Having been dropped on my head and lobotomized by aliens, this might have been more a personal statement than anything. I wrote about 250 words more that day, then the next day I read what I had written and concluded that it was crap. I tossed the pages, wrote I am insane once again and followed that up with about 400 words. I kept those words—for a while, anyway—and finished the novel. I’ve never had writer’s block since.