Writing as Stillness

Tue, 12/31/2019 - 8:00am

“The problem is, too many writers today are afraid to be still.” So says Silas House, the author of four novels, several plays and a creative non-fiction book. House maintains that many of us talk about writing, attend conferences, comment and cartoon on Facebook, rather than actually sit down to write.

House reiterates all of this, and in a more specific way, in his piece featured in The New York Times on stillness. He concludes the age-old truth that we all know somewhere inside of us: “There is no way to learn how to do this except by simply doing it.”

We must use every moment we can to think about the piece of writing at hand, to see the world through the point of view of our characters, to learn everything we can that serves the writing, it must be the way we live our lives.”


Listen to the rhythm and tone of others around you, whether they are talking in elevators, sitting at a table next to you in a café, or your closest relatives at the dinner table. Listen to their accents and dialect, and the vocabulary they use. Every time you hear a new word, look it up, and try to use it in one of your sentences. Carry your journal and start writing down what you are hearing around you. If you have a character that you are working on, imagine that character with you at your table: what would he say about that strange looking bum in the corner? This exercise has as many possibilities as there are moments in our day.