Silence for the Writing Soul

Why do we constantly fill our ears with noise and our lives with speed, leaving no time for those we love? Day after day, our oppressive schedules and mechanistic expectations drain yet another increment of joy from our souls. We rush from task to task, feeling guilty if we take any time for ourselves or for simple listening. We are tired from this hectic pace. We need to retreat into a time of rest and silence. ~Candy Paull

Are you blogweary? Even though you adore reading and maybe even earn your living from writing, are you tired of feeling you have to read dozens of blogs daily just to be able to market yourself and keep up? Are you tired of writing endless posts and comments for seemingly little return? Please don’t despair. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to show you how you can use your writing, reading and championing skills to to excavate the real you and make your life and your writing shine.

How can you connect with someone else’s heart and soul if you’ve become a stranger to your own?

Drink in some silence.

God is the friend of silence. See how nature —trees, flowers, grass  — grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how much they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~ Mother Teresa

You may be sitting in a silent room, hearing only the clicking of keys on your keyboard, but as long as you’re writing, you’re not silent. As long as you’re reading this and hearing my voice in your head, you’re not silent. Sometimes, without realising, we are thirsty for silence. That absolute stillness where suddenly, the solitary song of a bird enters our world loudly, suddenly, and with it, a dog barking in the distance. Suddenly, there’s the realisation that we are spending far too much time away from nature and the real, tangible world.

Try this:

Walk away from the computer right now. Go outside, or to a window if you can’t. Listen for the birds. See how many different songs you can single out. See which noises interfere, invade. Focus on one sound. Shut out everything else. Imagine its story…listen to the silence between the sounds, the silence between your thoughts.

Then come back and write it all down in a real notebook, with a real pen…

Did you do it?  If you didn’t, could you try it later?

I did something similar last year, and it led to me writing Birdsong, one of my favourite pieces ever.

Twittering is no substitute for the glory of a real dawn chorus.

How can silence help? Retreat from Twitter for a few days. See how much time you save and how much energy you didn’t realise you’d been investing in it. I’m not a Luddite – I know its value to community building and marketing. But I’m only talking about a few days’ silence. Will your followers leave you? Your followed ones forget you? Your tribe move on and leave you behind?

If you live in fear of those things daily, are you surprised you’re blogweary? If you constantly feel like you’re fighting for your life and your survival, are you surprised that ‘more popular’ blogs depress you? That other people’s ‘Followers’ statistics make you despair? Are you surprised that your muse has left you? That you feel you spend more time making noise than you do making art?

The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes — ah, that is where the art resides. ~ Artur Schnabel

I prefer quality to quantity, and I often find that a brave determination to cultivate one leads to the other. I prefer inspiration to motivation. For me, motivation is about pushing and is often fear driven, whereas inspiration is spirit led and synonymous with doing what we love. Inspiration comes from somewhere we can’t control, but it’s a never ending source. Our part is to be prepared, to listen. To believe that the power of revelation is as awesome as the power of motivation and drive.

Sit with some silence and decide if you’re driven by fear and motivation or led forward by inspiration and love. Some of us are a mixture of away and towards people. There is no right or wrong here, bad or good, but its important to know if one of those is dominant in your life. Too much self-motivation and fear can lead to anxiety and burnout, a feeling of never getting where we’re aiming for and an inability to rest.

A total dependence on inspiration without doing the daily work to harness it can lead to writer’s block or existential depression and angst, if for some reason, you can’t ‘feel’ it or capture it.

To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude…because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions. ~ Deepak Chopra

Your real colleagues and friends will notice your silence if you take a few days off from blogging, commenting and tweeting. They will ask. If no-one does, then that’s even more reason to get out into the real world and invest your love and care and talents in people who will notice.

If you’re earning very little from your pro-blogging, what’s stopping you going out and doing some charity work in the way that suits you best? No schedules, no obligations, just contributing love, time and energy. Let your computer sit silent for a while.  You won’t be any worse off financially, but you’ll have tales to tell and a heart that’s had a workout.  If you don’t blog for money but to contribute and support and entertain, then why on earth don’t you just take a break!? Come back refreshed?

Try this:

In your journal, explore what fears and feelings you felt in the silence. If you’re blogweary and have read this far but have decided that you can’t  – or won’t  – be silent for a few days, then I’d love if you could share your reasons with us.

If you do take a break, please come back and share what you learned.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be looking at more ways of rediscovering and refreshing yourself so that you can revitalise the way you support, nurture and connect with others.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already checked out my article Birdsong, please do. I feel it’s one of my best pieces and many people have written to say it inspired and helped them.  It’s a piece I’m very proud of.  Shaking off the Shoulds also explores the themes of overwhelm, inspiration and silence.

If you think you maybe just need a blogging spring clean, please have a read of  my post How to Beat the Blogging Blues.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

14 thoughts on “Silence for the Writing Soul

  1. Hi Janice!
    I’m still around. Still reading your blog posts, your excellently written spiritual and motivational blog posts.

    Despite what we’ve been talking about today this post doesn’t quite fit with my situation. You’ll see why in my next post 🙂

    • I’m glad! In some ways, I hope that this doesn’t fit with the situations of anyone who visits our wee bistro here, but sadly, experience tells me that many of us recycle through this loop. The emails I get confirm this. I experienced it often when I was doing my coach training, before I even started blogging. A lot of my coaching colleagues and clients needed to unplug and do some extreme self care; stay at home mums, too. The most passionate, hard working people who really care about what they’re doing are often the ones who get swept up in a cyclone of activity and don’t realise it till the overwhelm or the craving for solitude and silence hits.

  2. That’s right. And I’ve been through it myself, likely to again some day.

    Well actually solitude and silence are both keeping me company as I write this and we’re discussing what next. Where’s the next work going to come from, my blogging? Oops neglected that for the paid work…

  3. You tease. Tell us about the journey from blogging to paid work in a post soon. It’ll inspire a good few folk!

  4. Thank you, thank you. Yes I do get blog weary. I am inundated with joint projects and the hustle and bustle of life happening around me, soaking in the moments of my children as they are still young and supporting Sean in his endeavors can leave me feeling like I am spinning, not accomplishing enough and like I am intoxicated on overload and overdrive. My blog is neglected right now because I have to be okay with other things that are more pressing. I know in the long run the universe balances itself, but it is tricky getting through the white water rapids.

    Cindy´s last blog post..Being Honest Prevents Roadblocks

  5. You’re welcome.

    Your description reminds me of a tornado gathering upward and forward speed – but you and Sean are a ‘good’ tornado, so you’ll achieve loads and be able to sit back and savour soon, when these phases of powerful momentum have settled a bit.

    I’m glad you drop in here and share with us, Cindy. Don’t be fooled by these ‘quality not quantity’ comments boxes. If I’ve understood my stats right, you’re supporting more people than you probably realise. And if you look back over the comments you’ve contributed, you’ll find there are some lovely little gems that would make good blog pieces in their own right for your site.

  6. “Then come back and write it all down in a real notebook, with a real pen…”

    This is so true. I wrote thteshort story for Creative Inkwell this way and I just can’t imagine writing fiction like that on the computer. Almost all of my blog posts are written on the screen and on the fly, so to speak, but often I’ve mulled them over and over in my head so many times it’s almost like I’ve gone through the motions of writing and rewriting.

    You should see the scribble and marks on the notebook for that story. It’s refreshing, actually.

    Kool Aid´s last blog post..Easter weekend, part 2

    • @KoolAid ~ Lovely to have you here!

      I do all of my best quote hunting and notetaking in cafés, with a yellow Bic pen and a cheap notebook. My favourite super cheap notebooks just became obsolete and I’m panicking; the pages are so beautifully thin, it’s like writing on airmail paper. I love the feel of the imprint on the page afterwards, like personal Braille. I love the physicality of writing, the way the brain and hand just leave me out of the process. That’s why Julia Cameron’s morning pages work, I reckon.

      Good luck with your fiction piece at the Inkwell! I’m waiting till the closing date before I read them all – or else I’d be tempted. I can just about juggle everything I’m trying to do at the moment, but the deliciousness of returning to fiction writing might be one step too many for the family! They’d probably all divorce me for neglect.

  7. @Kool Aid That’s what I’m doing now, writing my entry for the CI competition. Yeah last minute job but it’s usually when I do my best work. So sorry but it looks like you won’t win first prize now 😉

    No seriously. I contemplated doing it the traditional way, with pen and paper but I cannot stand the thought of having to type out what I’ve written. Still, I should have at least jotted down my thoughts on paper first.

    Marc – WelshScribe´s last blog post..Why Keeping Busy Can Stall Your Freelance Career

  8. You’re a bad, bad man!

    I do still dabble…there, I’ve confessed. But usually short stories that expand into screenplays and I only do happy endings these days. Bet that doesn’t surprise you!

  9. Hi, I just found your blog and have read many of the posts already. I like your writing style, it’s very comfortable, not preachy. I also like what you have to say about blogging, and inspiration and silence (which I have a lot of). I have only been blogging since the first of the year but I enjoy it as much as my art.

    It’s also let me get out and read others’ blogs, many different kinds of blogs, and that has been the most helpful to staying creative in my studio.

    As soon as I get a new battery for my laptop (it goes dead quickly) I’d like to take your suggestion about going somewhere else to write.

    Thanks for all the good suggestions so far. I’ll be rss’ing here.
    p.s. your banner makes me feel happy.

    Diana´s last blog post..Everyone’s gone to the moon

  10. Thank you! I’m pleased that my banner makes you happy. Although it’s a fairly simple blog, I tried hard to create a blog-feel that I’d enjoy being ‘in’ every day and that other people would feel warmed by and able to relax in. I took the photo at my kitchen window so that visitors would get a feel of what my real kitchen is like! And a huge thank you, too, for the reassurance that I don’t sound too preachy; it’s a real danger for me. When I get passionate about things, I run the risk of sounding like I want to shake people by the shoulders and shout till they get it!

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