Feb 06 2019
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Write more and better by embracing quiet

Adapted from a 2017 Center post about resisting distractions that keep us from the page, this post distills those resistance tips into an ethos that will yield more and better words: you have to be alone sometimes to write.

Many writers are all about developing a community around the practice of writing. At the Center, we certainly love our community.

But let’s face it, the writing itself doesn’t happen when you’re in a (physical or virtual) room full of people. The need for community is born of this truth: to create, you must have quiet.

I don’t mean quiet in a literal sense, though some of us do need literal quiet to write. I mean that many writers need to find a way to turn off the outside world, to center themselves in their own mental spaces. There, creativity can flourish.

How to foster what Lit Hub writer Lan Samantha Chang called the necessary “rich inner life” so conducive to good writing? Here are some practices that have worked for me:

  • Privilege your writing above everything you can. Add your writing to the list of priorities in your life that also include your health, your family, your work, your spirituality, and so on.
  • Dedicate a space in your home for writing. It can be a room or a corner with a comfy pillow or the kitchen table with a cup of tea.
  • Try to make time to do nothing. Sometimes doing nothing is everything.
  • Let go of preconceptions, expectations, and notions of status and success in writing. A Chinese proverb reminds us, “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
  • Take periodic breaks from social media and screens. I don’t mean step away for a couple hours. I mean take a week, or a month, or more, and ignore those spaces. Notice how the chatter inside and outside of your brain quiets down a bit, giving way to deeper and longer thought.
  • Read a lot. A LOT. Keep track of the books you’ve read and what you like about them, or what they made you think about, in a journal.
  • Make a “Why I Write” statement and tack it up in your writing space. This is your mantra. Repeat as necessary.
  • Embrace solitude. You don’t have to live in a cabin on top of a mountain to be a writer. You do have to create a cabin on top of a mountain in your mind to be a writer.

Will you give any of these tips a try? Let us know, in the comments, how they work for you!

Related reading: How to make more time to write (and why it’s probably not a time problem you have)

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