Allow Moments of Silence in Your Creative Life

When was the last time you sat down and appreciated a moment of silence in your day? Unless a tragic event has occurred, these moments of silence are relatively rare in our days, but they’re immeasurably important for gaining a sense of perspective, focus, and serenity. I’m not just talking about for your spiritual or mental health, either — silence, I believe, is a necessary ingredient of your creative life, and one that’s too often neglected.

The convenience of portable music players these days has made them ubiquitous. While thirty years prior, people traveling or working or walking would be forced to listen to the noise around them, today people can shut the world out on a regular basis by putting in a pair of earbuds. Listening to music on the go is great for entertainment and for passing the time, but there’s a reason why I choose not to listen to music for my daily commute on the train. If I did, I would feel strangely disconnected from the world around me, uncurious about the people I’m sitting next to, unable to imagine their lives, all because of the distraction of music. Sometimes just listening is needed.

People who meditate will testify about the feeling of calmness and clarity that can come from just sitting and listening. You don’t have to be a monk or a practicing Buddhist in order to benefit from meditation. The next time you’re planning to write, begin the session by sitting quietly in your chair. Don’t stare at your computer screen. Don’t check your email. Instead, look and listen all around you. Listen to the sound of your breath. Look at the quality of light outside your window. Listen to other ambient sounds and try to figure out what they are. It’s moments like this that not only give you a feeling of calmness for your writing, but can also prove very inspiring. We need details about how the world looks and feels and sounds to make our writing vivid, and we can only get those details by looking and listening ourselves.

For me, therefore, moments of silence and listening are a crucial part of my creative process. What do you do to make sure you see and hear enough to inform your writing?

8 comments

  1. Mary Lou Wynegar says:

    Blaire, I Love your new site. Today’s article was a great article in the sense that I too feel there are many who miss out on what goes on around them when they tune out to “tunes” on their ipods. Though I might at times too, if I had one!
    In today’s world, call me paranoid ~ but I feel it is safer to be alert to the sounds around you.
    I have always been a listener since I was a small child. One of my favorite sayings is, ” In the Quiet you find Peace”. I don’t know if I heard it from somewhere, or if it came from me, but I treasure my quiet times. It has enabled me to distinguish different birds from one another. Know the sounds of baby raccoons crying as they are following their Mother through my back yard. I know the names of my neighbors dogs from him calling them in at 11pm every night, though I have yet to meet him. I can still remember what my Mother’s and Father’s voices sound like, and they are no longer of this world.
    Yes Blaire, quiet time is a gift that everyone should learn, and not taken for granted. For I have worked with those who are forever in the quietness and can not receive these gifts.

  2. earl boyer says:

    I agree 100% I’m a self taught artist ” still learning ” I believe guiet time helps alot in art, writing , learning, and paving attention to life around us . You are such a profound writer, thanks for sharing your many thoughts .

  3. Interesting post and perspective. In my case, as someone who works in a very noisy building, I rarely think of ambient noise as something useful or inspiring — I am busy trying to shut it out. To that end, I have found it useful to turn on an electric fan while working for “white noise” which drowns out other sounds such as traffic, voices, yowling animals, car alarms, power drills…

  4. JoAnn says:

    Hi Blair,
    First I’d like to say that I’ve been a long time reader of your blog and love the new site. I wish I had the quite time you speak of. I’m constantly badgered by office noise during the day and family life at night. The TV is never off. Yet I still try to write. I guess my biggest challenge is overcoming these obstacles and mostly learning how to turn the listening switch on and off. I really am envious of people who have mastered that skill. I’m not sure if you posted it once in a blog or I read it somewhere else, but every time I get discouraged I remember that “like our characters, the writer must also overcome the trials and difficulties that face us everyday in our endeavors.”
    Thanks again for your wonderful insights.
    JoAnn

  5. Bruce says:

    Interesting post and perspective. In my case, as someone who works in a very noisy building, I rarely think of ambient noise as something useful or inspiring — I am busy trying to shut it out. To that end, I have found it useful to turn on an electric fan while working for “white noise” which drowns out other sounds such as traffic, voices, yowling animals, car alarms, power drills…

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