Friday, July 06, 2012

The Importance of Silence

Found on the bike path, circa 2004, camera phone picture

I've spent the better part of the past year when I'm not writing, editing, or dealing with the real world stuff that makes up a life, working on enhancing my online presence.

Platform, for want of a better word.

Though, I feel that some see it as a soapbox, but that's a conversation for another time.

I have been fortunate to connect with some amazing, creative, and supportive people online through my various social media outlets--FB, Twitter, and Google + primarily. But there is a downside to the intense connectedness of our wired world.

This is not any sort of revelation to anyone out there, but just something I seem to have to keep discovering.

There is an incredible value in silence.

No necessarily the silence that is the absence of sound, but the silence that is a single mind focused on working through one task.

Yesterday evening, after spending too much time sitting at the computer and checking email, twitter feeds, FB pages, and G+ streams, I made an executive decision and enlisted my younger son to help me take the dogs out for a walk.

Often when I walk the dogs, I have my ipod and headphones plugged in, or I take the opportunity to return phone calls. But yesterday evening, I left my electronics home and spent a glorious 45 minutes with my 16 year old and the dogs, walking through the path that follows the Charles River at the end of our street. We found a few ripe black raspberries and the dogs enjoyed a change of 'sniffery'. (Like scenery, but through their noses.)

This morning, I decided that I could turn off my access to the internet for 30 minutes without risking withdrawal or the DT's. My goal was to write for that 30 minutes without interruption. But I had done a bad thing last night--I finished at the end of a chapter and had to face a completely blank page this morning with no idea where to go.

I squirmed in my chair, wrote and deleted a few words and looked longingly at the wireless button on the laptop. Typically this is when I would drift to social media and avoid the difficulty of the work I needed to do.  But not this morning. This morning I let myself sit with the discomfort, figuring that I could at least spend my half hour focusing on the story even if I didn't write any new words.

But something interesting happened.

I started laying down words and in a short time, had the bones of the next few scenes written. Utterly unexpected plot turn, but utterly inevitable looking back at it. It ramps up the conflict and ties one character's story line with another's in a way I had been struggling with.

All from 30 minutes of silence. Not only that, but I managed to add half my daily writing quota to the story.

Now to do some of the other things that need doing.

May you find your way out of clutter and into silence.


  1. Beautiful reminder, Lisa. Thank you!

    1. You are very welcome. And thank you for stopping by. :)

    2. Ooh, yes. The blank page and the squirmies. I sat there myself this morning, sipping tea, listening to my playlist and waiting for the words to come.

      Then they did, and suddenly there were 1386 of them all in a row, and the dregs of cold tea in my cup. :)

    3. Yay, Lisa! That totally rocks!

  2. I've been trying to find some time to deal with a blank page myself lately. Oddly enough, I find that I'm most likely to single-task focus when I'm out in the world - away from the dogs and the cats and the chores and the family and work. I take my gadgets along, but give myself the rule that when I'm 'alone' in a public space, I'm working. Whether it's a working lunch at my favorite little Mexican restaurant, or an hour spent in my car before the meet-up to get the kid back from his grandparents, that time is my focused work time. The lack of wifi helps, but mostly I think it's just the change of venue from somewere I multi-task all day and half the night to somewhere I'm responsible only to myself, where my brain space isn't pulled a dozen directions every time I glance up from the page.