1.12.17 - Silence!

1.12.17 - Silence!

I came across this article from The Economist on Twitter the other day, and was compelled to click because I’d just had a conversation with my husband about my need for large swaths of silent time. 

I’ve long owned my natural introversion, but I think there’s something more fundamental at play. Perhaps it’s from growing up in a forest, perhaps it is the introvert in me (with more than likely a touch of Aspergers to boot…) but I really like silence. I like the quiet that comes from spending the day alone. I like the evenings we spend reading instead of watching television. They rejuvenate my spirit, and bolster my concentration levels.

Who knows why and whence it came, but the fact is, when there’s too much sustained noise around me, I get very frachetty. I can’t concentrate. My thoughts fracture. I find even the simplest tasks hard. I get snappish and annoyed easily, and of course, the work suffers. 

I loved the piece in The Economist because it felt like permission to be true to myself.

Do I want to hike to the top of a mountain and become a monk? Well, only sometimes. 😉 I dream of doing a silent retreat, but I would want to have my husband there to talk to at night. Does that defeat the purpose? I can’t imagine going more than a few hours without hearing his voice, and he mine. True love? Codependence? Who cares, it’s a fact. So the all-silent thing isn’t for me, I guess. I did get a kick out of the fact that the author of the piece thought a week-long silent retreat was going to be the best thing ever, and instead bailed and left after a day. 

Silence is not for everyone. 

I don’t see the boredom in silence. I see it as a state of being. A calm lake on a cloudless day. A snow-capped mountain set against a sapphire sky. A perfectly attuned book photograph on Instagram. Something that makes you pause in your day and say, “Wow, that is beautiful. I need to stop here and admire it for a moment.”

Your shoulders relax, you breathe a little deeper, your mood is bolstered. 

That’s what silence does for me.

I’ve always admired writers who can go to coffeeshops and work. I have a fun group of writers here who do just that, and I join them on occasion. They rack up word counts while I get business done. Emails, blogs, things I can do with half an ear cocked elsewhere. There are just so many people to look at, characters all. I find myself daydreaming about who they are, what there lives are like, what they do for a living, who loves them, who they love, why they’re in the coffeeshop at that particular moment… which is a great creative exercise, but it also means zero word counts, which defeats the purpose.  

Lately, especially, the computer itself is also an agent of noise, even when it’s not playing anything through the speakers. The screen clamors for attention, a siren’s call. The consumption of this particular kind of noise is devilish to me—a bargain that must be made. I need the research. I like the friendships. I adore the education.

But at the same time, this is why I’ve been working so hard to turn off my devices, to spend time in REAL silence, meditation and yoga, a general tuning in to the universe. It’s hard to tether a lifeline, but I’m finding it more and more rewarding to have these few hours of true silence in my life. 

This is probably why Cal Newport’s DEEP WORK feels so right to me, why I like to turn on Freedom and work. The quiet is permeable, an entity unto itself. It grows around me, a favorite blanket, allowing me to relax and create. To simply be. 

Something I don’t know that we do enough of. 

Are you the strong silent type?

1.8.17 - Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 1.8.17

Hello, friends! How's 2017 treating you so far? It's been good to Chez Ellison, giving us a quiet week, and even a lovely snowfall. You know what? I'll take both.

I'm all inspired and energized to tackle the new year (in fact, I just completed my Annual Review), so many of the links this week will be focused on doing good work and good living. And without further ado...

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Y'all have heard me wax rhapsodic about DEEP WORK by Cal Newport. That book has revolutionized the way I approach my craft, and I can't recommend it enough. So needless to say when Cal speaks, I listen. And I really enjoyed his blog post about deep scheduling. If you find yourself struggling with keeping commitments while doing quality work, you need to read this article.

My bestie is brilliant. This article will show you why.

This is for anyone taking a risk: "Failure Must Be an Option."

Nerd Alert: Svenja Gosen 2017 word tracker sheets are LIVE! For all you writers out there, these are gold.

Simply profound, brought to you by The Economist—"The Power and Meaning of Silence."

There's hardly anything greater than a master craftsman working away. I loved this profile on the last bookbinder on the Lower East Side.


And closer to home:

If you got the newsletter this week, you'll have noticed a special contest exclusive to newsletter subscribers. Aren't signed up for my newsletter? You can remedy that here.

I really enjoyed chatting with James Rains of the Dog Eared Reads radio show out of KMXT in Kodiak, Alaska! We talked about my start in the writing business, co-writing with Catherine Coulter... and my embarrassing Anne Rice story. 🙈

I've started my newest standalone novel (my 19th book!), and it's a little rough going so far. Usually it's because I start in the wrong place, but this time I think the culprit is POV. You'll see what I mean.

Oh! I've just updated my favorite books list. If you're curious, check out my recommendations.

That's it for this week, y'all! Go to bed on time, shovel your neighbor's sidewalk, and we'll talk again soon.