There’s your muse, inner critic, and story characters; your mentors, friends, and parents; other writers, agents, and literary pundits. It makes for a lot of noise in there. Add the barrage of external chatter and you have quite the cacophony. For most of us, it’s a ceaseless stream of incoming information, internal monologue, and the slippery and shadowy musings of the subconscious. It can easily become overwhelming, but we’ve adapted to the constant onslaught. We find a way to keep working.
But, to become a better a writer, you need to find a way to quiet all those voices.
There is a place inside you where stillness reigns. It’s not easy to get there, but there is creative magic in that haven of quiet and calm.
My friend Bernardo recently talked about this place, this “heart of the hurricane.” In this brief video, he talks about how we hold the whole and complete essence of our life’s experience at this core.
I believe Bernardo is right. I believe we have the answers within us, if only we could get quiet enough to hear that small, still voice. In response to his post I wrote, “Finding the center and establishing a home there is so important to a life well lived. We each have to be able to hear the whisperings of our own heart if we are ever to know the secrets and dreams that are ours to hold and realize.”
As writers, we need that connection more than most.
We need it understand what drives us to create. We need it to unearth the stories that are ours to tell. We need it to become better at our craft.
A theme of silence has been twining through my days lately. Last week I was mostly absent from the web, abandoning Twitter, Facebook, and my beloved blogs for a week off with my beau. We spent a couple of afternoons at the beach – walking and talking, walking and not talking. I could almost feel the noise and rush of my hurricane edges settling and falling away – opening a wider and wider path to that quiet place in my heart. My head began to clear. Ideas emerged, shyly at first but then more boldly. Pieces of puzzles I’d been worrying at for months fell effortlessly into place.
As I came back to the Real World – the world of email and deadlines and the daily chaos and joy of my daughter – it’s wasn’t easy to hold onto the delicate thread that I was following through the forest of voices. As I sat to write, the voices began their usual clamoring. Having been neglected for a few days, each was eager to be heard – to imprint its opinions on my heart, direct my writing with critique, or divert me entirely from my task. But then I was reminded of the value of silence by a Twitter exchange with two friends – one old and one new – who were planning silent retreats. I’m not ready to go days without speaking, but the conversation reminded me that silence is, indeed, golden when it comes to connecting with my creative heart.
How often do you give yourself the gift of silence? What can you hear when you hush all the other voices in your head and listen to the one voice that really matters? How do those conversations affect your writing?
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of voice and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.
Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center