Jul 17 2018

A 3-step practice of silence to rev creativity

In this short and sweet post, Shawna Ayoub Ainslie returns to the topic of silence as a catalyst for creativity.

Let’s face it, the world is full of noise and you are part of the noise machine.

We have already talked about how keeping your stories to yourself as they are developing can help you finish writing them. But what about when you can’t seem to get started? This is the prime time to practice silence.

So you know I’m not leading you down a dark alley, I’ll share that I have been regularly practicing not speaking for two to three days at a time since 2002. The first attempt was an assignment for a writing class taught by Tony Ardizzone. His reasoning was that through silence, our other senses engage—our observational skills become heightened—which translates to having more to say on the page, and a building pressure to say it.

Given the opportunity, I will be silent for a week at a time. Three children, two cats, a dog and a partner at home make silence both necessary and challenging. In order for me to stop talking, I have to:

  1. Schedule the time with my family by letting them know what I’m doing, for how long, why and how I will communicate with them (hand gestures).
  2. Stay committed by consciously choosing not to talk over and over for the duration of my “silent retreat.” the only writing idea during a talking fast is creative. I truly am reserving words for the page. These silent periods tend to result in larger amounts of work produced. Don’t forget to set an automatic response on your email!
  3. Pay closer attention to the world around me. Silence requires more engagement than speaking. I believe this is why holding the tongue enhances creativity.

Will you give silence a try? Let us know how it goes in the comments!

Related reading

3 reasons not to discuss new writing (yet)

5 non-writing activities to make you a better writer

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Comments on ... A 3-step practice of silence to rev creativity

  1. This is a fascinating idea, of building silence right into daily routines, rather than going away to find it. I just finished a book on silence, encouraging my readers to create slow paths towards becoming familiar and comfortable with silence. I am keen to try this out myself. Silence is very generative indeed! Thank you!

    • Stacia M. Fleegal says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Jenni! Will you please share a link to your book with us?