January 21, 2009

One of the most important tools a working writer needs to cultivate is silence. Turn off the technology, skip Twitter, get the darned idiot box turned off, make specific choices in the music you play while you work.

Writers work from the inside out (even if they’ve sold their idea before more than a few words are on paper). It is vitally important to have swaths of time to hear nothing but the inner voice. And you may have to fight your way towards all the chatter that’s built up until you can find the quiet.

Before you start howling about “not having time” and “being so busy”, remember that this is part of the gig, and if you want to be a paid, working writer, you will have to make the time to do what’s necessary. There’s plenty of plotting and figuring out you can do while driving or running errands or sitting in a waiting room. But the meat of it, the character motivations and drives, will come out of silence. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you need to and take a long, hot soak in the tub.

Too many people in the modern world are afraid of silence. They’re afraid of what they will find when they look deep within. They are afraid of facing their deepest selves.

Writers must do that. Writers must excavate all facets of the human personality, good, bad, indifferent, frightening, and beautiful, in order to create real, developed characters to whom readers connect.

Silence is one of the most important tools of our craft.

–Devon Ellington


One comment

  1. AMEN. This came racing home to me the day I first sat on my new swing out back. My gawd, how the mind stills the moment you start swinging! And how interesting that at that moment, ideas flooded my brain. The ideas were there all along – I just hadn’t slowed down to notice.

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