How to regain your creative spark

James Garside
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

You are in a dark room. So dark that at first you can’t see anything. Pitch black.

Then slowly, as your eyes adjust to the gloom, you notice a gathering light in the centre of the room.

A faint glow, so tiny, the last of a candle flame.

When you try to look at it directly, it’s too bright, and hurts your eyes. But the candle is on the brink of going out.

The room is cold, and whenever the wind blows the flame gutters in the draft. Once it’s dead, it will be gone forever.

You approach the candle in the centre of the room, the flame has shrunk to barely a spark. You reach out and put your hands around it.

You shelter the spark; you encourage it. You tell it that it’s not just a spark, but a true flame. That the more it can withstand without going out, the stronger it becomes. With infinite patience, you watch, as the flame is restored.

Then, you tell it the great secret: that it has the potential to be so much brighter than the darkness of the room.

That if the flame was to shine to its full extent, it would be blinding, dazzling.

That a true flame has the ability to illuminate the entire world. Y

ou whisper these words and the flame burns so bright that the room where you stand is cast in daylight.

Where are you? What do you see? What does the room look like to you?

Every single person is born with a spark inside them. The flame that it may become means something different for each individual.

To some it’s humanity, life, spirit, or knowledge. To others it’s some personal notion of success, a dream, or an ambition. What do you think the flame represents? Give it a name. That’s what it is to you.

To me, it’s creativity. It has roots in myth and magick. From shamans walking between worlds and stealing fire from the gods, to writers hunched over their typewriters at four in the morning.

It’s anyone trying to write, trying to paint, trying to create something that lights up the world; people who even in their failed attempts reflect back at the world just exactly how dark and gloomy it has become — how threatening to flames.

That’s who we are. That’s what we do. That’s what we care about. We tend to the flame in ourselves and we tend to the flame in others.

Teaching is a lot like this. Maybe the reason I valued it so highly and felt compelled to care for and nurture creativity in others is precisely because of the pain I feel at the loss of my own flame, at it being so close to going out. Because I know what it means to lose that spark.

Take responsibility for your own true flame; hold onto it; and no matter what happens, don’t let it go out. But also take time to do the same for others.

The next time you speak to someone, try and get beyond the usual bullshit and onto the things that you really care about.

Even better, shut up and listen; find out who they are and what they care about. Look for a spark, and tend to it.

Imagine that as you speak to each other, you encourage the flame in that person, at the same time as strengthening your own.

Who are you?

I’m not interested in your job description. Show me your light.

What do you want out of life?

I’m not interested in your to do list. Show me your light.

What were you put on this earth to do?

I’m not even interested in your poems. Show me your light.

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NCTJ-qualified British independent journalist, author, and travel writer.


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