Yesterday I read this amazing article by Jason Reid about how a week on a ventilator in ICU turned into one of the most creative periods in his life.
You have to read it! Go ahead. I’ll wait till you come back.
The article really got me thinking about what I would do in that situation. Would I have the ability to manage, even mentally thrive, under those restrictions?
About 3 hours after reading the article, during an afternoon thunderstorm, the power went out.
When the power first goes out, it’s always difficult to know what to do. Of course, it’s impossible to tell how long you’ll have to wait. Will it be back in 10 minutes? Will we be eating dinner by candle light?
One thing was for sure, seeing as I lived over 20 storeys high, I wasn’t leaving my apartment. (I have no problem going down that many stairs, but I sure don’t want to come back up that many.)
So I stayed in my apartment, turned off my computer in case I needed it later (I couldn’t work anyway seeing as there was no internet access) and found myself a snack.
Then I started getting excited. What a fantastic opportunity! Enforced writing time! I sat down on the sofa next to a window, pulled out my notebooks and started scribbling. The words came thick and fast. I couldn’t keep up.
An hour zoomed by.
Then, while I was in mid fervour, my air conditioner made a beeping noise. With sickening disappointment I realised the power was coming back on.
“No!” I wanted to scream. “Wait! It’s only been an hour. I haven’t done all the stuff I wanted to do!”
How quickly our perception of a situation can change. On a day when I’d been struggling to get things done and couldn’t focus my mind on something for more than 5 minutes, an enforced limitation turned me from an unproductive frustration into a fountain of words.
So, while I still don’t know how I would manage on a ventilator (no paper and pen!) I did have a demonstration of how limiting situations outside my control can be liberating and great opportunities for extra creative time.
I’m looking forward to the next outage! But first I must purchase a torch…
What about you? What kind of enforced limitations have you come across recently?
Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art
August 5, 2010 at 11:05 am
Wonderful! Having a computer makes writing by hand seem outdated, so when I get a chance to do some handwriting, it’s fun. Fun enough to buy a houseful of journals and a handful of nice pens.
Next time, maybe writing by candle light?
August 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm
I love stationary! I just bought a whole box full of coloured paper clips, elastic bands, noticeboard pins and binder clips. It’s funny how purchasing notebooks, pens and other items can make one feel like writing.
Candle light is a good idea too, although I’ll have to purchase the candles…and matches.
August 6, 2010 at 10:37 pm
I too have found power outs extreemly condusive to focus and production.
May I suggest too for those wishing to write historical fiction or non fiction to flip the fuse and write by candlelight. It is very good for getting in the mind of your characters
August 9, 2010 at 2:47 pm
I agree. I read recently about a writer who was having trouble getting into her character’s head so she got out the candles, put on a shawl and started writing by hand. Worked like a charm.
August 9, 2010 at 10:52 am
Excellent post! And great article by Jason Reid! I love his comment on the ‘power of choice – knowing that you have it and understanding when not to use it’. Very interesting thought.
The ‘Power of Positive Thinking’ has been long known but barely understood. It can be the difference between success and failure, life and death. The power of the mind and the spirit make the difference. And often, it is only the creative thinker that can see the positive in the blackness of utter despair. It is only the creative thinker that can find the unexpected escape route. It is only the creative thinker that can visualise their intended goal so vividly that it holds more power than their present circumstances.
Now to exercise that power in every opportunity. I await my next metaphorical blackout with delight! I only hope I recognise it and use it to the full when it arrives.
August 9, 2010 at 2:53 pm
Isn’t there a saying to the effect of, ‘When Life gives you lemons, trade it for an apple or something’?
I wish you well with your next blackout. 😉