• strict warning: Declaration of FeedsImporter::copy() should be compatible with FeedsConfigurable::copy(FeedsConfigurable $configurable) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/includes/FeedsImporter.inc on line 94.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
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  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 193.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 609.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 128.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
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  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 208.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
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  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

Making Room for Silence

https://i1.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/665380266... 300w, https://i1.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/665380266... 640w" sizes="(max-width: 525px) 100vw, 525px" data-recalc-dims="1" />image by Giulia van Pelt
One of the secrets to balancing a busy life is doing more than one thing at a time. We listen to audiobooks while we drive, manage a hands-off dinner with our Instant Pots, send work emails from our phones in the grocery store checkout line, and so on and so on.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a lot of us. The opposite, even. Without multitasking I’d get a lot less sleep. I’m guessing many of you, balancing writing with myriad other priorities, are in the same boat.
But I’m in the phase of writing a new book where I have an endless supply of knotty problems to think through, and as I multitask, I’ve realized that thinking through those problems requires a new strategy.
I need to make room for silence.
Reading is both necessity and luxury for me, both work and leisure. Any writer who doesn’t read constantly, both classic and current books, is neglecting one of the best ways we have of becoming better writers. So for my entertainment reading, I’ve largely shifted over to audiobooks. My ears are full of thrillers and romances and historical fiction and more anytime I’m behind the wheel of a car or satisfying my Fitbit’s endless thirst for steps.
But now that I’m in this active phase of writing, when I need to ponder character development and plot twists and how to write my way out of the hole I’ve written myself into — I’ve found my audiobook obsession is standing in the way. Even music occupies my attention in a way that doesn’t let me puzzle out the best way to depict a turning point between characters. For that, nothing but silence will do.
I used to say I was always jealous of my writer friends who got their best ideas while exercising; for a long time, mine always came in the kitchen. If you think about it, though, there’s commonality between the two. When our bodies are occupied but our minds are free, that’s when we have the most time to think. Same principle applies to writers whose breakthroughs happen in the shower: you’re not writing, you’re not talking, you’re not working, you’re just thinking. When you can fully apply yourself to thinking, it’s only common sense that your thoughts will be more helpful, productive thoughts.
Our lives are busy. Our world is busy. We have access to more information, more sound, than ever before. But if you’re a writer, take a look at how much sound you’re letting in, and when. There may be times you need to turn it all off.
How do you create space for silence? For the thinking work that is so essential to writing?

About Jael McHenryJael McHenry is the debut author of The Kitchen Daughter (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books, April 12, 2011). Her work has appeared in publications such as the North American Review, Indiana Review, and the Graduate Review at American University, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. You can read more about Jael and her book at jaelmchenry.com or follow her on Twitter at @jaelmchenry.Web | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

"To be able to write a play a man must be sensitive, imaginative, naive, gullible, passionate; he must be something of an imbecile, something of a poet, something of a liar, something of a damn fool."
Robert E. Sherwood

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Fast fact about writing

The elements of fiction are: character, plot, setting, theme, and style. Of these five elements, character is the who, plot is the what, setting is the where and when, and style is the how of a story.