Life is Noisy
Let’s face it, from the time we get up in the morning until we go to bed at night, we’re constantly surrounded by a cacophony of sound. At times you can feel like it’s so powerful, it takes on a life of its own, something we’re powerless to do anything about.
As technology becomes more and more pervasive in our lives, the sources of noise are increasing and the opportunities to experience quietness are rarer and rarer.
For the vast majority of history, people lived relatively quiet lives. Over time, with the advent of the radio, then TV, then portable music players, computers, tablets and iphones… people have become overstimulated and overwhelmed.
Our minds are always buzzing, distracted, intruded upon. It’s no wonder silence has come to feel like a foreign entity, something to be looked at with suspicion.
Talking is Compulsory
Noise has become the status quo and the result is we can actually start to feel uncomfortable with silence.
A great example that proves this point is how people feel about talking. When you’re with someone, people can feel you’re being rude if you’re not engaged in conversation.
Have you ever experienced sitting with an acquaintance and felt compelled to engage in small talk because you’re worried you will be considered impolite if you don’t? I know I have.
When you’re silent, people are quick to make negative judgements. ‘Why are you being so quiet? Are you unhappy about something?’ or ‘You look upset. What’s wrong?’
The interesting thing is, it’s not about you, it’s about THEM. THEY feel uncomfortable with the lack of talking so THEY break the silence, thus filling a void that THEY feel can’t be left empty.
When you really think about it, talking just for the sake of talking is just plain illogical. But we’re so used to talking and hearing others talk, it’s easy to feel that silence is something to be avoided when you’re around other people.
A Change of Thinking?
Should silence really be avoided? Or is it just that we’ve started believing in the negativity of quietness based on habit rather than fact? Have you heard the old saying ‘Silence is golden’? These kinds of sayings don’t become adages without good reason.
Think, REALLY THINK about the following question: ‘When was the last time you had a truly quiet time – no noises surrounding you, no music, no TV, no Internet? When was the last time you can remember just being silent?’
How can we really know how comfortable we can be with silence when we’re rarely in the position to experience it? This is a question I’d encourage everyone to consider…
But especially if you want to be a writer.
Writers Should Never Underestimate the Power of Silence
Imagine your mind is a car engine. Certainly there are times when you need to be going along at speed, with your mind at very high revs, dealing with the stresses and pressures that your fast-paced, sound-filled life brings you. But when you’re writing, don’t be afraid take your foot off the accelerator.
Notice how as your mind slows down and you pick up a pen or start to type, silence is not a negative but a positive. First you’re open to it, then you find yourself embracing it. You might even be surprised at how empowered you feel.
Silence brings with it security, intimacy, relaxation. Stillness allows your mind to become unentangled from the cords of stress and drama and you feel more in control because feelings that have previously been drowned out can now be expressed.
Emptiness, loneliness and frustration melt away as you express your authentic self. Sometimes, the best things I write are at 2 or 3 AM in the morning, when I’m not interrupted by phone calls or other noisy distractions and all I can hear is the tapping of the keys as my fingers type out the message I’m creating.
The night is like a comfortable blanket, and I get into a writing zone where thoughts flow uninterrupted.
Silence gives you a chance to really listen to your inner-being, your deepest thoughts, your most creative impulses. Writing becomes almost effortless, fun, deeply satisfying.
If you’d like to read more on similar issues, look out for more blogs in this Writer’s Workshop series. Or if you’d like to share your thoughts, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.