When Silence Can be Golden for Writers.

heart-lockRecently, I have been coming up with new ideas for stories, which has been great. At one point, I was unsure about how to approach one particular idea and was thinking of asking a question about it on an on-line writing group. I became hesitant simply because I was uncertain of the whole idea myself.

When we come up with new story ideas, it can sometimes be difficult to contain our excitement. We want others to be excited about it too. Many years ago, I would let my friends read the stories I was writing at the time. My friends were always interested in what I was writing and were eager to read more, but I would eventually reach the point where I had lost interest. I had no idea where the stories were going; there was no real plot and I only had the basic knowledge of my characters. It therefore came as no surprise to me that I never finished these stories, thus leaving my friends disappointed and I had many incomplete stories lying around.

Since that time, I have gone the other extreme and now think too long about my stories and characters, that I am lucky to send anything off (I really do need to learn when enough is enough). Whenever I am asked what it is I am currently working on these days, I only give the very basics away.

It may be different for other creatives, such as artists and musicians to describe a new project – people may have to see it or hear it in order to understand it better. For writers, however, we are perfectly able to give people the basics of what it is we are trying to create as these things are easier to put in words, which is our art form. Talking to others about our projects, before we fully understand them ourselves can destroy an idea before it really gets started.

So when you come up with a new idea for a story or working on something new, keep a lid on it; enjoy the process. You need to work it all out for yourself without having to let others either confuse you or discourage you. As Stephen King said: ‘Write with the door closed. Re-write with the door open’.

Do you tell others what you’re working on? Do you find it to be a help or a hindrance? Do you prefer to keep quiet about your work in progress? Do you find yourself thinking too much about a project before sending it off?

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Being a Writer: Me, Myself & I.

BuddhaAs writers, we are often told that writing is a solitary pursuit, and in recent months I have begun to feel that more than at any other time. Despite my husband working 95 kilometres (59 miles) away, I have learned to adjust, yet for the past couple of months he has started a new position that takes up so much of his time, I hear less from him than ever before. Learning to adjust to this current situation is a lot harder to come to terms with.

Almost twelve years ago, my husband and I moved out here to the country to make our ‘tree change’ – a slower, quieter pace of life to get away from the hectic, stressful life of living in the city. For the most part it has worked, and the solitude has been idyllic for the writer in me, but as a person, in need of company sometimes – well, maybe not so much.

During my last days in sixth class (yes, I can remember that far back), my teacher wrote me a short note stating: Silence is Golden – it was wonderful having you. I have never forgotten this message simply because it taught me these two things:- that I was appreciated for who I was and that silence is not such a bad thing after all.

I have always been the quiet one; the one my mother always labelled as being ‘different’ from my older sisters; the one who had a close circle of friends but jumped every time another kid spoke to me; the one who was happy to be on their own within their imaginary worlds rather than play with her sisters. Becoming a writer was inevitable.

These days in a busy world where noise is the norm and everyone is expected to work above and beyond what a human being is capable of, we need some time out for ourselves. Lately, I’m finding myself more ‘inward looking’, yet the advantage is, it is a perfect situation for writing. Spending quality time alone allows you to focus and determine your goals. Silence teaches you that if you really want to be a writer, you have to learn to get used to it and appreciate what it can do for you. As writing is a solitary profession, we need to learn to be comfortable with ourselves.

Keeping quiet also makes for good listeners, which is important for writers. Not only can we pick up on ideas for stories, it also gives us the opportunity to listen more to our characters and the stories they wish to tell. For now, I need to learn to make the most of this situation. Without trying to sound like a complete crackpot, I need to finally give a voice to these characters and their stories. After all, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch! 😉

As a writer, have you learnt to embrace the solitude? What do you do to help break the silence? Would you prefer to have more time alone in order to help you write?

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