Few things under heaven bring more benefit than
the lessons learned from silence and
the actions taken without striving.
– The Tao Te Ching (Translation by Tolbert McCarroll)
We have created a world of noise. We’re plugged in, turned on, and tuned up. Television, radio, computers, cell phones, portable media players, headsets, earphones.
What is this about, and how might it affect you and your writing? What does this take away from you as a writer? Or add?
Deep listening is the ability to hear what another person is trying to communicate. This also applies to listening to yourself, your inner being. An important skill for the writer to develop, this is also about learning: learning to let go and to have things happen, learning to respect, learning to learn in a way that is profound.
Along with observation – another helpful writer tool – silence and listening can give the writer a way to experience people and the world from a different perspective. This is also how we can understand ourselves on a much deeper level. As we come to understand ourselves, our characters grow and deepen on multiple levels.
By being still, tapping into the silence, and listening we might discover:
– A character’s underlying motivation
– A way to empower our characters to create stronger stories
– Ways to react to story situations from the character’s point of view
– Alternative paths or plots
– Themes that are important to us that we can build characters and plots around
– Ways to use setting and other story elements to create mood
– Solutions to issues or blocks we might be having.
What about sitting down, being still, and listening? At first, you might find this is not as easy as it sounds. We are so use to MOVING and DOING. The focus here is on BEING. You might decide to use meditation to help you or whatever method or technique you might chose to get you centered or grounded.
Remember the lyrics to the song “The Sounds of Silence”? (From the album Sounds of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel) It begins:
Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
The seeds of our stories and of our characters are inside each of us. If you listen, you will find what you need to make your stories more powerful.
Explore the silence, listen, and you might be surprised at what you discover.
Question for today: What does silence and listening mean to you? To your writing?