It took me a long time to be comfortable with silence. I am, in essence, a Golden Retriever crossed with an otter, so I’m all about fun, fun, fun! I gotta play, gotta move, gotta be in the middle of whatever is happening. Whee! Ain’t life a barrel of puppies??
But plunk me down to sit still and be silent? AAAHHHHH!
I used to think I was alone in fidgeting when it got too quiet. As for flat-out silence, I knew everyone else was okay with it while it drove me to…well…noise. But since jumping into the publishing world lo, these many years ago, I’ve realized I’m not only not alone, it’s downright crowded in the noisy places!
Now, I’m not talking about the silence we writers deal with when we write. That doesn’t feel silent because there’s so much going on as we create. I’m talking about S I L E N C E. An absence of sound. Even worse, an absence of input. Friends, I’m here to warn you about the dark side of silence. I’m here to warn you about cavitation.
Ever been out in a boat run by an outboard motor? Your Evinrude is propelling you along, sending you sailing over the waves, and then wham! It’s like you’re suddenly suspended, going nowhere. Enter cavitation. The outboard’s blades have encountered a momentary void and are spinning like crazy but not accomplishing anything. We tend toward cavitation when we encounter silence in our writing journey.
Like when your agent has sent a proposal out and it’s been months and NO ONE has responded. Or you put out a blog post or comment on social media and the result is a resounding NOTHING. You know what I’m talking about. Those silent places where we convince ourselves that the meaning of the silence is that we’re hacks, that we’re not doing things right, that we never should have thought we could write and why did we ever quit our jobs?? Mama was right: I shoulda been a secretary! Or a doctor! Wait, maybe I need to send out another proposal, cuz if they don’t like that one, they’ll like this one. Igottadosomethingthissilenceiskillingme!
Okay. Deep breath. Say it with me: “Silence is good.” Yes, it is. Now, stop disagreeing with me! Silence is your friend. It reminds you to stop for a moment and be still. Yes, be still. Relax. Give yourself a break. Take an honest look and determine if you’ve done all you can about that proposal or post or whatever. If not, fine. Make a strategic plan for doing better. If so, let it go. And move on to the next task, but do so with a calm spirit.
Let the silences work for you, not against you. You’ll enjoy the journey a whole lot more, and you won’t drive yourself—and the people around you–crazy.
Your post makes me think of the Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…”
Thanks for sharing.
Great post. Very encouraging to know you feel that way too sometimes. Thank you.
I lived in that silence for years. I learned God Halee the timeline. Then, in God’s timing, there was an explosion of noise- a heavenly choir. I agree, don’t fight that silence, it’s God directed. Don’t try to force it. Or you’ll miss the sweetest sound of all. God cheering for you.
I’m in a place of silence right now, and God’s showing me that sometimes, after I’ve done all I can do, I need to let go and let God.
My first thought was Jackie Layton’s response: “Be still and know that I Am God.” In that silence we have the opportunity to wait for God to reveal His plans for our lives, and if we look carefully, we get a glimpse of His face.
Tammy G Fish
This blog made me smile. Somehow I knew you would have some “otter” in you. 🙂 Great advice.
Trusting God for something good in the silence. The older I get, the more I appreciate those silences. He is indeed working something for my good.
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
Thanks for the posting, Karen. I am a Type A++ personality, and waiting and silence can be a real challenge! It is during the silences that we can really listen to what God has to say. He has some pretty good ideas that we can only hear if we are willing to listen quietly to Him.
Wendy L Macdonald
Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone, Karen. Getting out in nature helps me work off some of the tension of the waiting game. Then I’m ready to read more writing-craft books, novels etc. and dive into a new project or post. By the way, I enjoyed reading “Writing Success”.
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac
I think part of the key is understanding that silence from editors or agents or blog readers is not personal, nor is it necessarily holy silence. I’m good with sitting quietly, listening for God in His silence, but waiting for someone to respond to my blog or proposal or manuscript can fill me with noisy doubts. Very noisy doubts.
I’m going through a major transition in my life and haven’t been able to focus on my writing. your post about silent times encouraged me to hang on, as this too wiil pass.
You are speaking into my silence. Thank you. Deep breath.
Love reading your responses. Thanks, everyone.