Thursday, April 01, 2010


Earlier this week I made the time to take a walk with my daughter. It was a wonderful bonding experience, wandering down a dusty cow trail in Eastern Oregon and picking spring wildflowers. It also reminded me of an important aspect in the life of a writer…stillness.

Sometimes we forget the need for stillness in the writing life. When you take the leap from hobby writing to professional writing, quiet time is often the first thing to go. If you have kids, or some other full-time job, you’re even less likely to make room for stillness in your life. People and pets demand your attention, deadlines loom large, and a myriad of professional and private commitments pull you away from any semblance of personal time.

It’s a mistake to let it happen, though. There are a couple of reasons.

First, sanity. If you’re an extrovert, you may be able to go long stretches without needing quiet space to recharge. If you’re an introvert like many writers, though, that periodic space bubble is a necessity. It keeps you balanced. It keeps you from biting off the heads of your friends and family. Make room for stillness and not only will your feel better, your loved ones will be ecstatic.

Second, creativity. When you make a living from writing, it’s tempting to feel the pressure to keep the pen on the paper constantly. That’s not always a good thing. Sometimes you get so busy writing that you don’t take time to think about what you’re writing. A little space and quiet, without focusing on your current projects, may provide you with fresh insights. Yes, a little stillness can inspire breakthroughs when you least expect them.

Everyone’s needs are different. Five minutes of quiet may suffice, or you may be so burned out that you need an entire day without voices in your ear. Decide what works for you. Don’t consider it an indulgence. Consider it an investment in peace of mind and creativity.

Today I challenge you to find some time for stillness. Take a walk, pick some wildflowers, go window shopping. Take some time to recharge your batteries. Your family and your writing will thank you.

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