Sometimes, Silence Is Required

I’m in the midst of a difficult revision. Difficult, because like many of you, I’m very distracted by the world’s goings-on. And difficult also because I’ve been challenged to amp up the work with this next draft. To go deeper, exploring characters and theme more fully, and adding tension to that dreaded middle.

I’m not complaining about the challenges, mind you. I want to write the best possible novel, one that expresses my most profound feelings – and those of my characters – while saying things that need to be said, all without didacticism or obviousness or shouting from the platform.

As agent/author Donald Maass has written so eloquently, authors are responsible for crafting books that uphold basic principles of honesty, compassion, and hope. This is especially true, I think, for those of us who write for children. So my so-called message cannot feel like a message, yet must convey those principles through subtext and character behavior all while my story grabs the reader and yanks her along with energy, mystery, and surprise.

I’m one of those writers who has to write every day. If I don’t put words on paper I feel like I’ve dropped the ball. But sometimes, in trying to write the best words, silence is required.

Sometimes it’s necessary to step back and not write. To just let the thinking happen without the effort. To ask my subconscious to work while I dream, or to doodle and noodle until the ideas pop.

Walking is very good for this. So is gardening, I find, and in the winter, knitting or making music or sketching. Sometimes travel helps. And sometimes, just sitting and staring into the distance – that thing I find hard to do. I’ve been doing all of these, trying to get everything to gel, knowing from past experience that once it does, the writing will come fast and furious.

It’s very difficult, this stepping into silence, especially right now. So forgive me if I do go silent for a bit while I noodle and doodle. I hope that the rewards of this silence will be great.

Comments

  1. Janet, I’ll be thinking of you as you work to craft the best novel. I also appreciated what you said: “Sometimes it’s necessary to step back and not write. To just let the thinking happen without the effort. To ask my subconscious to work while I dream, or to doodle and noodle until the ideas pop.” I needed that.

    • Oh, I’m so glad it helps, Linda. I know. I always feel like I’m cheating in the moment, but it pays off in the end.

  2. Thank you, Janet, I am write – right in the middle of a revision that needs to go deeper. I appreciate your support the often moving – walking – even doing dishes is the non-writing that allows fresh thinking.