The Art of Shutting Up

I do my best writing when the house is so quiet I can hear the wind pressing its face against my window. That’s solitude. I can’t write while playing music (even Maria Callas is a distraction). I can’t write while drinking overpriced coffee in a cafe. I have to be home. And my home must be quiet.

Knowing that for as long as I have, why has it taken me so long to learn to shut up? In the last few weeks, I’ve come to realize that I have refined the art of talking projects into the ground. It’s goes a little something like this: A well meaning friend asks, “How’s the writing going?” And I say something like, “Oh, pretty good. My thesis advisor is looking over a draft of my manuscript right now, so I’ve decided to write a series of poems about… I think I want all of the poems to involve.. I’m really drawing a lot of imagery from… This series is different from my last project because… ”

That’s fine and dandy except when I go home and sit down to write this fantastic new series of poems, I have two realizations. First, I haven’t written ONE poem in this supposed series. Two, now that I’ve talked and talked and talked about this series, I can’t write it. I’ve talked the idea to death.

And so, I am learning about the art of silence, the art of staying at my desk and answering to no one put the words I’ve already written.

You say, “How’s the writing going?” I say, “Just fine.” End of scene.


5 responses to “The Art of Shutting Up

  1. Your process fascinates me immensely Mr. Jones!! I’m the total opposite with creative projects.

    I can’t start a series or new creative project unless I’ve talked it out or mentioned it in great detail to another person. Something about hearing myself think aloud helps me organize my thoughts.

    P.S. love your blog ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I can write in silence and write with noise.
    In public, in private, whatever.

    I do however get the most writing done when I have a few distractions as possible.

    Internetless areas are the best places for me to write.

    I do wonder though if I have talked an idea to death. I might need to shut my mouth up too.

    Um, how’s the writing coming?


  3. I have only been able to write to music once, and it had to the soundtrack to “Beloved.” Otherwise, I have to have silence. As for Maria Callas, I can’t write to even her, but I enjoy her O Mio Babbino Caro rendition and sing it in the shower, cooking, driving, etc. (pretending to know almost every word of it, too!).

  4. I’m with you on this! At the end of last year I tried to go through my poems to put together a 2nd full length manuscript but I found myself overthinking the “theme” of the collection and I couldn’t finish it. I’m trying again but this time building poem to poem ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I require absolute silence to write creatively as well ( I can do my copywriting to jazz/no lyrics).

    And once I get there, absolute silence – it is the Land of Make-Believe. Unfortunately it takes so much for me to get there.

    I need to join a monastery to complete my first book.

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