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Naomi Rose : Importance of Silence, Slowing Down in Writing

The Importance of Silence and Slowing Down in Writing a Book

Reflecting on the Journey Helps Create the Journey's Blessings

By Naomi Rose

If you have ever been on a silent retreat, or been in nature for a period of time in silence, you already know from experience how incredibly fertile that bed of silence can be. As the usual chatter fades, the things that pull us away from our in-the-moment inner experience (things to do, places to go, errands to run, emails to send, worries to keep circulating, etc.) show their true colors as mind-distractions and perhaps ~ addictions, and just don't seem as compelling as they had before. Something in us begins to relax, then; to stop always being on alert, ready for the next action, the next item on the to-do list, the next thought/opinion/decision. We drop into ourselves, and into the moment. We are that most essential of things: here.

Not everyone has the opportunity to go on a silent retreat, or even to spend a stretch of time in nature. But what we do always have with us is our own deep nature. I bless you that if you are writing, or wish to write ~ a book or a shorter work ~ that you can do so from within the sacred silence of your own deep nature. Whether this means setting aside a morning to write in which you do nothing else ~ or clearing the papers off your desk or table, and lighting a candle accompanied by a conscious intention or prayer ~ or even taking a flower essence for writing, ~ setting aside the world's concerns for a time, so that you can hear the silence within you and allow it to give you something wonderful to follow in words written down, is a gift you can give not only to your writing project, and not only to your eventual readers, but to your own soul.

And this silent, sacred space and time will help to heal the world. Just your doing it. Even before your book hits the stands.

In our very speedy times, just to contemplate contemplation as a doorway into writing is to be moving according to your own deep rhythm, rather than the culture's. It's not that doing is wrong or bad ~ far from it. But I know that for myself, if I am out of touch with the natural rhythms of my being, my doing can have a frenzied feel to it ~ an automatic wind-up-toy kind of movement, in which the combination of my hurried breath and worried mind (even if I construe this worrying as being "productive") urges me on to more and more and more activity. And whether this activity is connected to the true movement of my being when in stillness, and receptive ~ well, that hardly even enters the picture.

Today, as I sat at my studio with piles of things to do, ready to push myself onwards to the next task, all of a sudden I realized that I needed rest, and that I did not have my own permission to rest. This moment of realization was a sobering one. It told me that I had given my allegiance to some cultural standard ("do more faster"), rather than to the wisdom within me. I put my hands on my head and for the first time that day actually felt the contact of my hands with the (aging) smoothness of my forehead. This contact, always available, told me that I had (again) forsaken my true and instantly available nature for some carrot at the end of some stick that I hadn't even been the one to invite as my goal.

You know about the movement called "Slow Food," where people get together to learn about where the food they eat actually comes from, who works the soil, how the vegetables etc. get transported to their table? Where food is seen as sustenance and a way of bonding people, allowing them to take their time cooking, and eating, and savoring each other's presence as well as the food itself? Well, but did you know there is also a "Slow Time" movement, which considers the subjectivity of time passing, and how there are ways to open to this slowing down? Not only breathing more deeply and listening to Baroque largos and adagios (which I am fond of doing), but actual cultivating a slowed-down relationship to time. Making room to "do nothing," to let life present itself to you as it unfolds. To gather in beautiful impressions and let them color your inner life and imprint themselves in memory.

While I continue to ponder how "Slow Business" might arise out of this ultimately human kind of wisdom, what I do know is that "slow writing" pays off.

Recently I was interviewed about creating from the soul, and in answer to a question about whether writing fast is the way to go (thus bypassing the "inner critic"), I found myself saying for the first time ever that while fast writing has its place, of course, there is also a lot to be said for slow writing. Contemplative writing. Writing that emerges out of silence. Out of Being. Out of the no-words-place, so that we can actually receive something true and then ~ and only then ~ seek to bring words to it. This is in line with seeking to give words to what cannot be put into words. Naming the ineffable. Why bother? one might think. But it is worth the bother. Even if you can't reach the thing itself with your words, even just the reaching makes a difference.

A book, unlike a blog, or even an article like this, is a long project. It's like a marriage, or becoming a parent, or living one's life. If you really give yourself to it, if you commit for the long haul, then there are themes that arise (not from your intellect, but because as you seek to live truly, they come up like motifs in music). There are chapters that begin, continue, come to a close, and then you turn the page and a new chapter starts. If you are close to the heartbeat of the writing, if you follow its course rather than commandeering it, you may find that though the new chapter has a new focus, there are still trace-elements of what has come before ~ working itself out through your psyche and body and soul, refining, washing off the silt in hopes of finding true gold.

Writing in silence, from silence, in contemplation gives us the room to be. In this state, we find something we have longed for, and if we get all the way to completing our book and sharing it with readers, they find something they have longed for, too.

In this age of super-dynamic, always-on, fantastic, amazing, high-energy, busy-busy-busy, it may take inner courage to just slow down into Slow Writing. But why not follow your heart into the stillness where all the nourishment and beauty and guidance lies? Why not?

When you have met yourself in that place, you may find wonderful company with whom to feast. This, at least, is my prayer. And sometimes it has actually come true,through my writings. May it be so ~ if these words move your heart ~ for you as well. •

Copyright © 2012 by Naomi Rose. All rights reserved.

Naomi RoseNaomi Rose, Book Developer and Writing Coach, has successfully used her "Writing from the Deeper Self" approach to help people with an inner-directed focus write the books of their hearts. More »

5/3/12