If noise clutters your mind, you will produce shallow writing. Create silence and empower your authentic voice.
As you enter the room, you immediately feel its aching potential. The neutral walls yearn for color, texture, or art—anything to animate the room, to tell its story. Its soaring ceilings and generous bay windows invite you to stretch your legs, get comfortable, and stay awhile. Unfortunately, this potential is utterly unrealized. Thousands of Post-it notes are slathered with scribbles and blanket the wall. Mold, mildew, and wood rot seal the windows shut, creating a musty, suffocating staleness. The pervasive clutter paralyzes you, and a low, ubiquitous hum from an indeterminate source distracts you beyond reason. A perfect project for one of your favorite TV remodeling programs, right? What if this were actually your creative mind, begging for your time and attention?
Your mind is a powerful force.It is constantly filled with lists, expectations, and demands. It whirs with disparate and dynamic ideas, emotions, nervous energy, aspirations, optimism, insecurities, or despair. In addition to these ordinary (yet demanding) internal processes, our fast-paced world oftentimes distorts or completely ambushes your mental energy. Personal and professional responsibilities, twenty-four-hour cable, multiple email accounts, cell phones, text messages, and countless social media outlets create a tornado of distractions, noise, and mental bedlam for all of us.
But a noisy mind is a tired mind.And a noisy, tired mind has limited capacity for cultivating your authentic voice. A noisy mind defaults to performing superficial work and producing writing that won’t be worth reading. So how can you remove this mental clutter, eradicate all these Post-it notes from your mind, and create enough emotional, intellectual, and spiritual space to create? By simply turning the volume of your life down. Create silence. We become so consumed by doing, doing, doing that we forget how to be quiet. We need silence in order to reacquaint ourselves with the powerful, purposeful, soulful, meaningful voice within us. In the silence, you will find the strength to go beneath the surface to the place where good thoughts and good sentences come together. A quiet mind interested in diving deep comes back with stunning creations.
Where to start?Set boundaries in your external world. Unplug your phone, sign-off from your social media accounts, and turn off the TV. Tell your family, friends, roommates, and colleagues that you’re going off the grid and will be unavailable for a while. Start for just a few minutes. With some practice, you will find yourself craving these moments—which will soon turn into hours, sometimes days (if you should be so lucky!). By isolating yourself from these external demands, you will be able to hush that ubiquitous hum that infiltrates your life, throw the windows of your musty mind open, and invite a fresh perspective into your soul.
But you still must go a step further.Your internal noise can be just as draining as the external noise. During these cherished moments of silence, learn to observe your thoughts and emotions without being swept away by them. Breathe deeply. Meditate. Be still, both physically and mentally. This, too, takes practice, but, with time, you will realize that your thoughts and emotions are not facts, just the rolling monologue of your mind. By slowing your inner dialogue, you will start to realize how transient your thoughts and emotions are. Only then can you prioritize the internal voices that will lead you to the appropriate intellectual, emotional, and spiritual depths where you can completely surrender to the creative process. All of us carry an inner disquiet and long for deeper meaning. Don’t simply accept the clamoring in your mind and in your life. Prioritize and create both external and internal silence. Don’t wait until you’ve completed everything on your to-do list or resolved all the questions in your mind. And don’t expect it to occur organically. Create silence, nurture your creative mind, and fully realize the potential of your authentic voice.
CHANTA G. COMBS
Chanta is the newest member of the AROUND THE WRITER’S TABLE team and will be a regular contributor to our blog. Chanta’s professional experience has been in law, policy, politics and corporate America. However, she has finally surrendered to her lifelong passions of reading, writing, and researching, and is following them to new frontiers in her life. As part of that journey, Chanta is currently enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Editing & Publishing Program at Florida State University. Her goal is to absorb all she can about the editing and publishing industries while also finding new dimensions to her authentic voice. Chanta is a mom in love with her eight-year-old son, two dogs, and two cats and she calls Tallahassee, Florida home.
This creativity tip is inspired by The 97 Best Creativity Tips Ever! by Dr. Eric Maisel (2011), and is used with his permission.
Gina Edwards is a retreat leader, a certified creativity coach, and a book editor. She is also a writer, so she’s intimately familiar with the challenges and elation that come with being one.
She supports all writers—published and aspiring—who want to write as an act of courageous and necessary self-expression.
Walking the writer’s path hand-in-hand with her clients and students, she helps them establish a writing practice and define a creative life on their own terms.