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This blog was featured on 07/28/2016
[BREAKFAST WITH THE MUSE] The Blessings of Silence: Three Ways a Silent Practice Can Clarify, Strengthen, and Energize Your Writing
Contributor
Written by
Jill Jepson
February 2016
Contributor
Written by
Jill Jepson
February 2016

 

If you feel scattered, frazzled, and overwhelmed, a sure cure is a practice of silence.

Setting aside a regular time for silence can be challenging, but if you can find just ten minutes a day or an hour a week, silence will bring surprising benefits to your writing life. If you ever have the opportunity to take a silent retreat for a longer period of time, those benefits will multiple.

Creating a practice of silence means finding a place that is relatively free of extraneous noise and setting aside a regular time not to engage in conversation, either by speaking or listening. It does not mean you must be meditating during that time, or sitting alone in a room, or out on some mountaintop. Silence can be practiced while you do housework, take a walk, or do crafts. It can even be practiced with others.

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Some of the benefits of silence are obvious. Silence is tranquil. Silence helps us relax. Being silent calms our hearts and our minds. That harried feeling many of us experience in our daily lives eases away during periods of silence.

For writers, silence has some other, less expected benefits.

Silence helps us break through old patterns, especially with respect to style. Most writers begin over time to rely on the same familiar word choices, sentence structures, metaphors, and plot devices. These can become so engrained we don’t realize we’re using them. When your mind is constantly occupied with conversation and noise, it doesn’t have time to pause, recognize those patterns, and come up with new ones.

Silence helps bring us in touch with the mythic, nonrational part of our consciousness.Constantly dealing with noise and speech keeps us analyzing, organizing, planning, and remembering. The logical parts of our brain work overtime, while the intuitive, generative part atrophies. Since that nonrational part of our minds is where true creativity takes place, the barrage of conversation and noise we experience can take a serious toll on our writing.Taking a break from it creates a wide mental space where we can tap into a more profound awareness.

Silence helps us discover our authentic voice. Once we quiet the voices around us and stop thinking of what to say next, we can truly hear ourselves. We can get to know the person inside of us, without the interference of other people’s opinions. Silence helps us learn who we are and what we have to say. It enables us to get to the root of what makes us unique as people and as writers.

Have you ever taken a silent retreat? Do you practice silence in your life? What blessings has it brought you? How might you incorporate a practice of silence into your life?

Hi! I'm Jill Jepson, author of Writing as a Sacred PathGet my free bimonthly strategies for writers here

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Comments
  • Jill Jepson

    I'm so pleased you like my post, Irene. Walking in the woods, meditating, and walking the labyrinth--what wonderful ways to come to silence!

  • Irene Allison

    Thank you, Jill. I love this. Silence means a lot to me. And I can't live without it. Whenever I go for a walk in the woods, or after meditating, or if I get the wonderful opportunity to do a complicated labyrinth walk, it never ceases to amaze the creative and insightful ideas that come from nowhere. Silence is so nurturing! Thank you for this!

  • Jill Jepson

    Thank you for sharing you experience with yoga and meditation, Nancy. I love the phrase, "traffic jam in my head"!

  • Jill Jepson

    I love walking the labyrinth as well, Karen. I know this may sound contradictory, but I sometimes think those sounds of nature contribute to the silence. At least, they help me silence my noisy thoughts!

  • Nancy Chadwick Writing

    Love this post! And it's true. Years ago, I never considered going to a yoga class. I thought it was for young, gumby-like women who were naturals at making pretzels out of their limbs and torso. Now at middle age, I took a six week course, "Soaring into the Sage Stage." I didn't expect the experienced yoga format or meditation practice. My first experience of silence in meditation during these classes had me hooked on meditation. I don't necessarily need to go to a yoga class to meditate but I do need meditation to create space in my mind. I seek silence to let go and make room for creative inspiration, clearing the traffic jam in my head in order to write well. Silence begets good writing.

  • I walk a labyrinth near my home and that brings me into silence while giving my body something meaningful to do instead of sitting still. Walking labyrinths is my spiritual practice and that brings me closer to my core.  But in many ways the time is far from silent, but it  is actually musical: trees swaying the breeze, birdsong, critters chattering.  Since they are not verbal input coming from outside myself, they add to the tranquility of my time there.