Not all writers are introverts who cherish alone time. Many are, but even writers who are extroverts and get all their energy from being with other people, need time alone.
We need time to fill the well. The well is replenished with reflection, relaxation, observation, meditation, and movement.
I should say, my well is filled with all these things. Your well may be filled by additional practices, but even the most extroverted among us has to take some time for reflection and observation. We can’t spend all our time creating content and we can’t spend all our time taking in more—more conversation, more story, more learning.
We need to pause and just be every once in a while. Regularly, if we are going to keep filling that well.
Silence is one of the best tools I’ve found for filling my well. I regularly take Wordless Walks with other people. We may chat before and after the walk, but during the walk, we are silent. We are walking, we are breathing, we are noticing the crunch of the ice underneath our cleats and the flash of the cardinal’s wing as it takes off from a nearby branch.
And we are filled up when we are finished. Full of images, ideas, questions, and insights.
Honestly, I think one of the reasons we all get our best ideas in the shower is it’s one of the few places we are alone without the radio/podcast/TV/other people feeding us words.
- You don’t have to go on a Wordless Walk to embrace quiet or to allow yourself time to reflect. You could go for a walk outside by yourself without wearing earbuds or listening to anything on your phone.
- You could go to a place that’s unusual for you, even a store you don’t usually shop at, and just browse around without an agenda or a shopping list. This is the classic Artist’s Date Julia Cameron recommends in her book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.
- Or, you could decide not to listen to your car radio while driving somewhere and see where your thoughts lead you. Keep a notebook handy for your insights (once you are in park, of course!)
- You could sip a cup of tea or coffee in a public place and notice all the hubbub around you while you remain in an oasis of calm.
Silence, time to reflect, artist’s dates—these are all writer’s tools, just as journaling is a tool. In order to know what we are really thinking, what we are really feeling, we need to take some time to allow our thoughts and feelings to surface. Time is a valuable and ever-more-rare commodity in this busy world, but it is essential for our well-being, whether we are writers or not.
Without that time, that silence, that reflection, our words will eventually dry up. Don’t let that happen.
Fill the well.
Diane MacKinnon, MD, is a Master Certified Life Coach who used to work as a Family Physician. She’s passionate about writing and journaling and is (still!) working on her first book, a self-help book for medical peeps. You can find her at her website, www.dianemackinnon.com.