Saturday, December 17, 2011

10 days of determination: day 2 - enjoy the silence

one thing i think everyone is used to, no matter what you do
or where you are, is plugging into something to take yourself
out of a situation. the subject of this posting is to remind
yourself as a writer to appreciate quiet moments and the benefits
they bring.

in my case, one thing i find myself doing along with most of the
population of New York City is tuning everything out on my daily
travels. i've gotten so used to plugging into my iPod the moment
i hit the streets and the subway that i didn't know what to if i
ever forgot it. anyone who has ridden the subways and buses can
tell you exactly how manic and outright outlandish it can be. from
the mariachi trios walking up and down the cars, to mothers with
crying babies in mega-strollers and the ubiquitous beggars, the
subway can be really noisy. but in between, there's a certain calm
that exists. i didn't really appreciate that until one fateful
morning three years ago.

i was going into the office late after leaving late the previous
night. in a rush to head out, i left my iPod right on my dresser
since i thought i had left it in my jacket pocket. of course, i
didn't realize it until i was on the bus headed to the subway.
and i braced myself for whatever craziness would occur as i stepped
into the subway car. (for some reason, i seem to witness a lot of
craziness. i've come to accept it.) i walk in, find a seat and
settle in quietly. and during the 35 minute ride, i felt myself
totally at ease. i let my ears get used to the quiet charge the
train tracks gave off. i sat with the silence so much on the
subway that hearing the station announcements at the next stop
threw me for a jolt. i got some writing done, and even had an
enjoyable read.

as writers, we get too used to having to live with the noise. we
get too used to thinking that noise and activity create a great
mood for productivity. you start dreading quiet because it does
not inspire you unless you happen to be on vacation. nothing can
be further from the truth. silence, or situations close to it can
be a great stimulant. you can hear the voices of your characters
more clearly. you can take the opportunity to diagram entire scenes.
if you're writing fight scenes, you can take that quiet and figure
out how to choreograph them, acting the movements out if you need
to. (you might want to make sure you're alone if you do that though.)
like Depeche Mode says in their song, 'enjoy the silence.' you'll
be surprised - and happy - at what you find.

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