Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a ritual when it comes to writing fiction. I start my writing session by lighting a candle, and I keep the candle going until I’m done my writing for the day. I only do this when I’m creating fiction–never for writing letters or blog entries or journalism stories. The candles are usually of a fancy, clean-smelling, expensive variety. When The Gap stopped selling their Grass-scented candles, I was heartbroken. Same goes for The Healing Garden’s Green Tea. Who is this evil corporate entity that keeps discontinuing my favorite products? Who didn’t love The Body Shop’s lemon soap? But I digress….

I’ve never thought much about my candle habit, but when the last one came to a flickering end a few weeks ago, I was at a bit of a loss. I still worked on my novel, of course, but it didn’t feel the same. I couldn’t wait for my birthday–I had to replace that candle now. That’s when I discovered the high price of wax these days.

Candles are beautiful things. They cast everyone in a more flattering light, and can make any occasion feel special. Even so, I rarely use them when I’m not writing. It’s as if lighting a candle is a signal to my brain that says, “ok, let’s write”.

I’m not one of those lucky people that can listen to music while I write. I can’t tote a laptop to a busy coffee shop and plunk myself in the midst of the masses…not if I want to actually get anything done. In order to write, I need silence, I need consistency, I need a space to call my own. And it’s nice to have a candle, if only for the company.

What rituals do you rely on when it comes to being creative?


A note on following your dreams…
An astronaut from the Canadian Space Agency gave a presentation at my workplace today. He talked quite a bit about how he always wanted to be an astronaut when he was a little boy, and how it’s the best job in the world.

Just think of all the children who want to be astronauts when they grow up. How many do you think actually go on to achieve that dream? I wonder how many adults listened to this little boy talk about blasting off into space one day and thought, “isn’t that cute. Too bad he’ll actually wind up being an accountant.” Wrong!

To me, the astronaut’s presentation was a powerful message of what you can do when you put your mind to it and never stop believing in yourself.

Making the Cut, Day 10: Bloody sore from yesterday’s workout. Good thing it’s one of the rest days. Followed the eating plan so far, but I’m starving and stuck at work late tonight, so I have a feeling I may slip a little. Salads are not dispensed from our vending machines. If I do any damage, I’ll make up for it by stepping up the rest of the week’s workouts.
To bed at: 12:30 a.m. (but I had a good reason this time)
Awake at: 7:10 a.m.
Novel pages written: 1.5

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  1. kungfusinger

    It’s not so much a ritual as a habit. I tap my nose repeatedly when I am designing. It’s almost as if the tip of my nose has a brain re-start button on it.


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