Tuesday Tip: Sit Still

Sorry for the slowdown, readers; I’ve been away in a wedding (it was lovely), but now I’m back to teaching and writing and blogging. All the traveling I’ve been doing this week has gotten me thinking about the virtues of sitting still, and how important a skill it can be for improving your writing. So today, the tip is simply:

Sit still.

It’s surprising how little we do it these days. Sure, we’re parked goggle-eyed in front of our computer screens more than ever, but that’s not what I’m really talking about. I’m talking about allowing moments of stillness to enter your life and stop you, so that you can fully and absorb the life that’s normally rushing by. When the officiant of the wedding (is that the right term) asked everyone for a moment of silence to remember a beloved family member whom we have lost, in the ensuing silence I felt myself truly experiencing the loss again, allowing myself to realize what it really was. I was reluctant at first; I didn’t want to feel those feelings again. But ultimately I was grateful for that moment of experience. The funny thing about human emotion is that, as Wordsworth said, it must be “recalled in tranquility” to be truly felt and understood.

So today, sit down and sit still. Allow stillness to enter you. Feel the things you’ve been avoiding feeling. Experience the more genuine thoughts and feelings you’ve had lately; you may be surprised how adaptable they can turn out to be for your fiction, if you really pause to think about them. Once you’ve sat still and understood what has moved you lately, you’ll be refreshed and ready to write about it all.