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The Power of Writing In the Dark

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

Let me establish from the get-go that I love love candles. They create a relaxing ambience in any room and there’s nothing so romantic as a dinner with tall, flickering tapers, even if the meal is a boring plate of baked beans.

I’ve read that famous Victorian authors like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens wrote by candlelight, as did Mark Twain and other writers who grew up without the luxury of electricity. Surprisingly, even 20th century writer Jack Kerouac wrote by candlelight, even though it would have been much simpler (and brighter) to turn on a switch. In fact, the On the Road author supposedly had a ritual of blowing out the candle to indicate he was finished writing for the night.

As for me, I’ll sometimes burn a scented candle while I’m writing a novel, like when I was writing Seaglass Christmas in July. For automatic writing, I might light a small tealight candle inside a clear quartz crystal candleholder to help me connect with my Higher Self, but those sessions are generally brief and I usually have my salt lamps and crystal lamps illuminated when I do them.

One candle to light the darkness

I like to try different writing techniques and on December 21, I decided to pull the electrical plug. My challenge? To write in the dark for one hour by the glow of a single votive candle!

The concept of no computer, phone or lamps was exciting, but I wanted it to be a scentual experience, too, so I placed the candle and its holder inside a Mason jar that I had filled with freshly dried oranges, rosemary, fir cuttings, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice. Before I lit the candle, I sprinkled a few drops of an aromatic oil I had made for Yule on the top and soon the air was perfumed with balsam fir, peppermint, rosemary, and sweet orange.

Photo by Eleyne-Mari Sharp

Since it was the first night of the Winter Solstice (the longest night of the year), I decided I would write about Light and it would be the old-fashioned way — with pen and paper!

At the beginning of the session, I could barely see my notepad and I wasn’t sure I was writing within the lines. How did those long-ago writers do this? I was tempted to bag the experiment altogether and turn on my trusty lamp and computer, but my stubbornness to “reach the finish line” pushed me forward. Surely, I could write in the dark for sixty minutes!

Once my eyes adjusted, I was surprised at how much writing I produced in that short timespan. While the candlelight was just a speck in my dark office and could have easily inspired a story of shadows and horror, I had no such thoughts or fears.

In fact, I’ll go one step farther: I discovered a super power while I was writing in the dark. And that power — believe it or not — was clarity.

Finding power without the power

I sat at my desk with pen in hand, imagining I was sitting near a great bonfire, enjoying the solitude and the evening air, the scent of the burning wood, and the stars twinkling in the heavens.

I am grateful for the Light of those stars. How many times have I wished upon them? And how many of those wishes came true?
I don’t remember most of those wishes, but I do remember the ones I am making tonight.
I wish for Light to expose all the dark places on this planet, to expose the darkness of humanity’s hearts. And I wish for the Light to fill me with joy and goodness.
For too long I have felt powerless against the dark. Those whom I believe served the Light have apparently changed their paths. They are promoting conspiracies that I believe in my heart are false. Yet I know I must not judge and I find that easier said than done.
What I wish for tonight — what I pray for tonight — is that I am able to see the Light — and the darkness — in all things. To understand why the world is in such turmoil, I need to be open to The Big Picture.
Photo by Eleyne-Mari Sharp

As the candle flame flickered — blue light at the base, white at the top — I explored many topics, including my own spirituality. The more I wrote, the greater was my intuition and I can honestly say I found a newfound strength with my candle that evening. I won’t claim to have solved the world’s problems (nor all of mine), but I did write a lot, achieving a great sense of accomplishment.

Unless the world should lose power for the rest of my life, I doubt I could maintain a candlewriting practice on a daily basis. I am just too spoiled and addicted to pushing a button or flipping a switch whenever I want light, heat, or entertainment.

Of course, I could have easily written in the dark with a pair of night goggles and an LED night pen, but I‘m glad I didn’t. Writing by candlelight was freeing and peaceful. And it was my small tribute to all those dedicated writers who penned fabulous works without benefit of electrical lighting and gadgets. They made do with what they had.

Unlike me, they had no other options.

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