Tuesday, December 23, 2014


‘Tis the season for lighting candles: candles in an advent wreath for Christmas, red, black and green for Kwanzaa, menorah-held ones for Hanukkah’s “Festival of Light.”

My childhood memories of holiday scenes are wrapped in light. I remember squinting at the lights on the tree and holding gifts up against a lamp with my sisters, trying to see through the packaging—as if Mom and Dad didn’t know!

But it's no denying that holidays can be challenging for writers. “No time for that!” we yell as we cook and shop and wrap. 

I’d like to suggest that we don’t have to write the season off as a loss to our writing. We shouldn’t let our creativity flicker and go out any time of year, and that includes the holiday season.

Light the flame
Think of your creativity as a lighted candle, a special flame inside. It is your charge during the holidays, as well as every other day of the year, to keep it lit. I encourage you to think of the flame as strong, fueled by your determination and hard work. It is fed by the wax of every hard-fought lesson you have learned along your writing path.

Watch the flame
Now is the perfect time for pausing midst the holiday chaos to just look and listen. Notice your feelings. Childhood memories percolate to the surface during the holidays—take note. Literally. Keep a small notebook with you to write down the things you feel and observe. This is rich material for use later, maybe in a fictional character, a scene in a memoir or essay, or a sketched moment in a poem.

Feed the flame
Re-invent the holidays in a way that suits the writer in you. It’s all about awareness. Pay attention to what causes your creativity flame to burn brighter, and what makes it flicker. If being out in the hubbub of the season lights you up, then go. Be among the people in a mall, a place of worship, or go caroling with friends. If a silent night soothes you, then curl up with a fleece blanket, sip some hot cider and create a gratitude list. Experiment joyously. The discoveries you make about what lights you up during this crazy-busy season can be extended into the new year.

Spread the light
Above all, ‘tis the season for sharing. December 21st was the shortest day of the year, with the longest night. The world craves your light always, but especially at this time of year.

What is there to lose by sharing? Absolutely nothing. As Buddha said, “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

There are a myriad of ways to spread the light of creativity: you can form or join a writing group, volunteer for a writing organization, or help a child write and illustrate a story. One of my ways to is to lead a writing group at a residential addiction treatment center for women. The women there inspire me and feed my flame with their passion for life and recovery. Give it some thought and I know you’ll find something that suits you.

So let’s all go and light it up! And from Susan and me...


  1. The Winter Solstice seems to bring the light, or at least the subject of light, to writers everywhere. Dawn Wink, in her Dewdrops blog this week, wrote about Early Morning Light and Stillness. Me, I’m just in the dark. I wake up in the dark, I go home in the dark and the days pass by in a blur. I’d just like to be able to catch my breath, and maybe a bit of light and stillness, for five minutes. Maybe then the stiffness would leave my shoulders, at least for those few minutes.

    The photographer in me likes this time of year because I don’t have to get up at some unreasonable hour to photograph a sunrise. I can sleep in, sort of, and still wake up in time to see the sun rise and the sky turn pink and rose before the glow goes.

    The other night, when the winter wind wasn’t howling, I took a few minutes and drove around my neighborhood just to look at the Christmas lights. They bring a festiveness to the long dark nights. But they shine for such a short time before the plug is pulled and the long nights go back to being dark.

    If I struck a match and dropped it into the pile of wadded up attempts at writing that I've done this year, that would light up the night, for a little while at least. Although I don't think this is what Lynn meant when she said to spread the light of creativity. :)

  2. All that writing you did this year is kindling for the writing fires to come, my friend! Merry Christmas!

  3. Merry Christmas to you and Susan. I hope you consider Writing Wyoming as a creative candle that the rest of us use to light our own creative candles. Thank you for that light, ladies. Seeing an email each Tuesday that one of you have posted another lighted candle for us, is one of the highLIGHTS of my writing week.

    May 2015 be a writing cornucopia for both of you. And again, thank you both for sharing in Writing Wyoming.


  4. Thanks, Art. Blog readers like you are what keep us going. The Writing Wyoming blog is an evolving project, and we learn every week. We love sharing what we know, what we almost know, and what we love about our part of the world and the writers in it. Best of all, it forces us to write :-)

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  5. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! I should have read this earlier, but I will take it to heart now that I can breathe a little bit. Happy New Year! May this year be a productive one for all of us, writing-wise!

    1. Glad you stopped in. Yes, breathing is important! Enjoy your New Year's Eve, New Year's Day. Heck - enjoy the whole year!


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