Last week I introduced you to Lightning Writing—white font, white background. Today I want to show you how to do Thunder Writing—black font, black background.
First, I’d like to think about the connotations of these two kinds of writing. Lightning Writing, as I said, is white on white. But what does white writing make you think of? Sudden illumination, jagged writing, purity and clarity? Definitely. But whiteness also makes me think of the eeriness of a deserted, weed-filled field on a hot summer day, with the buzz of unseen, unknown beings filling the air; Remember how Meursault felt in Camus’ L’Etranger in the blinding heat of the beach, leading him to an unpremeditated murder? You never dare to stare into the sun for fear of blindness. The point? When you write in white, you must open your mind to ambiguity—clarity and confusion.
You’ll experience the same abiguity when you do Thunder Writing—black on black. We often think of blackness and night as scary. Night is when the vampires and zombies come, when we feel terror trying to change an exploded tire on the expressway with all those serial killers cruising past. Sure. But night is also velvety soft, comforting and warm. It’s when you can think about things without guarding your expression. It’s time to be soft and warm in your nest of crisp sheets and blankets, for those wonderful moments of thinking before you sleep. It’s the gleam of crows’ wings and kohl to line your eyes. So when you write in black on black, consciously direct your writing toward affirmation and fear.
As with Lightning Writing, try to save your Thunder Writing without looking at it for a few days. Then you will open the document, select the text with Control + A, change it to black on white, and be amazed by what you wrote. Use it to write something consciously controlled and save it again, let it ripen.
Next week, we’ll talk about Sky Writing, Solar Writing, and Grass Writing.
Okay. Here’s how to do black on black.
Go to “Format” on the toolbar. Click on “Background.” You will see the background change to nice solid black. Then go to the “Text Color Selection” tool in the upper right (as you did for Lightning Writing) and choose “Black.” WARNING! Don’t choose “Automatic” or your text will be white, an interesting effect but not what we’re aiming for.
Start to write thunderously, with your fingers coming down firmly on the keyboard. Or begin to write stealthily, with your fingers coming down like delicate cats’ paws!
We’re going to start with Lightning Writing today.
Remember the joy of writing with invisible ink when you were a kid? You’d buy this ink at a novelty store and write in it. Nothing would appear on the page but when you held it up to a light bulb, the words would appear.
You can use a technological equivalent for those days when the censor is sitting on your shoulder and you’re lingering too much on what you’re writing instead of trusting yourself and moving ahead.
I’ve done this for years and was interested to hear another writer, Karen Blomain, talk about using it at a conference I recently attended. She uses the white version but I have several variations.
The idea is to write in a text you cannot see or cannot understand but which you can easily change back to your normal black Times New Roman (or whatever) on a white background.
Okay, ready to go?
First, change your font color to white with the selection tool in the upper right corner of the toolbar area. Begin to type. You will see . . . NOTHING!
This is a wonderfully freeing way to write. You will feel a closer connection between your brain and your fingers when you write without the in-between appearance of the printed text. Your thoughts will fly freer. You can come back and censor, tweak, re-arrange later. That’s the part of writing that should come later, divorced from the act of creationg. Give it a try.
Now that you know how to do this, be really brave and start a folder in which to save your unseen writing. Don't peek. It’s okay to give it a retrieval name you can see. You’ll want to call it up later, select the text, and change it to black.
After writing something, I always put it “in the drawer” for a few days, at least, or better, a few weeks before I come back to it. My mind will have been working on it in another way and my thoughts and eye are sharper to revise.
I’m going to give you a few days to try this and then I’ll post again, with some exciting variations.