Today is the Feast of St John the Silent. Now this isn't usually of much interest to me as a non-Catholic but I thought it gave a neat introduction to a theme for today's blog post. I'm thinking about silence.
Recently I did a media blackout week. I turned off Twitter, stopped checking my email every 5 minutes and switched the TV off. I did it to try and concentrate more on my writing but one of the benefits of doing it was the silence. Sometimes it was alarming how much noise from outside I could hear in the house without the TV muffling it but it was lovely to have the silence. Not total silence but just a quiet that allowed me to think and notice what was going on around me. The birdsong was so pure and clear, such an uplifting sound and something that I have noticed more since the blackout when I walk into town.
However the most important type of silence for me as a writer was the silence in my head. Without the noise of the TV and the 'noise' of social media I noticed my thoughts much more. Now I know that it sounds like I don't think most of the time - I can assure you I do! - but when there's a load of other stuff going on I find my own thoughts get pushed aside and I don't fully engage with them. As a writer I think it's important to listen to my thoughts, after all ideas for stories come from all sorts of places and if I can get some clarity in my mind I can have and develop my ideas.
I've often wondered what it would be like to do a silent retreat where you don't speak to other people apart from a small break from silence everyday. I know some people have found great spiritual solace in the silence, speaking only to God. I'd like the chance to do it one day - who knows what I might discover when left alone with only my thoughts for company? Maybe I can Google it and see what's involved and where they happen...
So although I now have 'permission' to watch as much TV as I want I'm trying to turn it off sometimes and have some silent time to listen to my thoughts and develop them into stories. Silence is a lovely thing to indulge in sometimes.