Mailbag: Moments of Silence In Your Creative Life

This week I’m responding to comments about a very popular post here at Writerly Life: Allow Moments of Silence in Your Creative Life. I was pleased to see how many readers also felt the need for moments of peace and contemplation in their daily lives. Let’s see what they said!

Mary Lou Wynegar said:

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 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 Blair, 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.

Thanks, Mary. It’s great to hear from another person who values quietness, and sees an almost spiritual dimension to these moments. I can understand a little of why the deaf community, for example, values their way of life so strongly. A little decrease in stimulation can open up our minds to so many wonders of observation and awareness. And a little silence can greatly increase our listening skills, too. All of this will improve our writing and our ability to imagine and concentrate.

earl boyer said:

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 .

Thanks for the compliment, earl! That’s the important part of moments of silence: paying attention. We’re able to appreciate our surroundings so much more when quiet, as opposed to skimming through our daily lives in a dream. It’s time to wake up!

After the jump: more comments about the value of silence.

Short Story Ideas said:

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…

Thanks, Short Story Ideas. That’s another good point, and one I support: sometimes a little background noise can cut out the distracting sounds and help with concentration. You may have heard already that I’m a big fan of the Buddha Machine. It is a meditation aid inspired by Buddhist monks, that plays simple audio loops again and again to give people something to focus on and increase their concentration and relaxation. I highly recommend meditation aids like this one to enhance the sound landscape around you.

JoAnn said:

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[sic] 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.

Thank you for your kind words, JoAnn! It’s true, in today’s digital age, getting quiet time is actually a bit of a Herculean challenge. It takes discipline and concerted effort. It might take turning off your internet for a while, or going outside for regular walks in a quiet place. It might even mean waking up earlier to take advantage of those quiet morning hours. Whatever works, I wish you luck in your quest for quiet. Just as you say, if we expect our fictional characters to endure hardship and overcome obstacles, we can surely do the same.

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