Listening is one of the qualities that lies at the confluence of writing and meditation. In the practice of open awareness and mindfulness—the type of meditation where you’re not relying on a specific technique—part of the process is allowing the mind to quietly settle and be with whatever arises; to simply listen. Not just with the ears, but with eyes, nose, body—all the sense-doors awake and open to whatever spontaneously manifests.
Likewise, one can access the creative in writing through simply listening—by quieting the chatter of discursive thought, of cutting through the surface of what you already know or think you know, and dropping down a few notches deeper, into the unknown. Resting in silence invokes the freedom to be fresh, receptive, newly attentive to subtle images, to the quiet voice that may have been hovering and waiting for some spaciousness in order to appear.
Sure, this can be scary. The mind likes to be busy with people to see, things to do, places to go. And in writing as well, we tend to be more comfortable when we know where the story is heading, what’s the next step on the outline, who’s on first. And isn’t it great when we’re immersed in a project and it’s almost like dictation—the words flowing, images popping, characters talking, ideas taking shape and form.
But don’t forget to occasionally leave room for the space to just stop and listen to the silence. And let me ask you this: “Is there ever really silence?” Or do you find that there’s always at least a background hum to the universe. That there may be a word, a voice, an image, a fragment from a long-forgotten dream, just waiting to emerge from silence. So don’t forget to listen to the silence . . . then write.