While scrolling through Pinterest one day, I came across this quote:
“As a writer, you try to listen to what others aren’t saying and then write about the silence.”
Those words jumped out at me and their implication dug into my conscience, causing me to evaluate my current level of writing and challenging me to push beyond my comfort zone.
The Silence Causes You to Dig Deep
If you’re like me, it’s easy to write a listicle, a book review, or create content for a website. Those writing projects primarily involve basic research, restating facts, inserting some quickly formed opinions and/or adding calls to action.
They’re quick and comfortable, causing lots of writers to compete for such writing gigs.
But to write about the silence?
It’s largely avoided. Just thinking about it is uncomfortable. Awkward. Risky. And it’s often emotionally draining.
Because the silence always has to do with personal experience.
For example, it’s easy to publicly lambast politicians about their wayward behaviors and questionable policies. However, it’s NOT as easy to publicly share the reasons leading up to — and the ramifications following — your own impromptu actions and selfish decisions.
It’s easy to spout your opinion about race relations, mental illness and a litany of “abnormal” behaviors. However, it’s NOT as easy to write about your own emotional baggage or hidden biases.
The Silence Requires Courage
Writing about topics that aren’t comfortable or easy means that you’re going to stand out from the crowd. Therefore, you’re going to be different.
Writing about the silence challenges you to stop imitating others. To ignore the latest fads. To step out of your comfort zone and write what’s being impressed upon your heart or placed in your path.
Recently I attended a luncheon at which the University of North Carolina Wilmington women’s basketball coach, Karen Barefoot, was the guest speaker. She shared several interesting insights, but one in particular stood out to me.
She stated that you must “practice courage”.
As the word “practice” implies, it isn’t going to happen on its own; you must take the initiative. And it’s not a once-and-done action; you must do it repeatedly.
Practicing courage also means you have to learn to stand firm. Many people will disagree with you, some will outright belittle you, and a few may even question your judgment. That’s part of the process.
The more you practice courage, the more confident you will become.
It’s a confidence built on humbleness as you write with feeling and compassion. Confidence in knowing that you’re sharing something unique and powerful. Confidence in knowing that your writing is making a difference in lives of others, whether it’s offering truth, hope or encouragement.
That, after all, is the best reward any writer can ever hope to achieve.