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Aug 04

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

night sky

Photo by kronerda

It’s You that Made Me Talk Again!

Getting back into writing for myself and blogging on this blog has been an ordeal for the past few weeks. I could never think of anything to talk about. The words did not flow freely! I’d want to write, and surely I’ve stumbled upon something during the day that merits 600 words, but the motivation and creativity just weren’t there.

However, I begun to notice a pattern. Every time I would go to bed, that’s when everything would come so easily. Full paragraphs and concepts would create themselves in my mind, keeping me awake as I tried to fall asleep. I couldn’t figure out why it was happening, but it was a double-edged sword. I liked that I was finally getting some great ideas flowing through my brain, but they were also preventing me from getting enough sleep.

This happened several times before I figured it out: it was the silence. The absence of distractions and stimuli, even visual stimuli, helped my mind to focus for the first time the entire day. Being creative or “finding my creativity” was no longer an issue. When I take away music, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds and HipChat pings, my brain doesn’t have any problems thinking and getting things done.

Once I figured it out, the thought of silence became incredibly exciting! If I make an effort to remove as many distractions and stimuli as possible, then what could I possibly create? How much would I be able to get done? What aspects of myself would improve if I were focusing and engaging in my work in the fullest capacity?

I Tried It Today and It Worked Fantastically

As I worked today, I kept the distractions to a minimum. Unfortunately, I have to keep HipChat on because I need it on for work and I need the pings to know when someone is trying to talk to me about something. I can’t never ever log in and tell my coworkers to trust that I’m getting my work done, although they can. Part of it also is to build relationships with each other since we all work virtually, and HipChat and our daily meetings are the only ways to do that.

Besides HipChat, I didn’t listen to any music or any podcasts throughout the day. I didn’t have any YouTube videos play in the background. I just put on my headphones and had nothing come through them. The silence worked tremendously! It was so much easier to get things done, and I felt less hurried and frazzled throughout the day. It seemed like I was working at a pace that accomplished things on my to-do list, but it wasn’t a pace that was rushed or that felt like I was conquering an insurmountable number of tasks.

Working in silence is certainly a habit that’s going to take some time to develop. I’ve already found out today that once the distractions are turned on and allowed in, they are very difficult to turn off. It’s become so instinctual to browse YouTube or to check Twitter for what’s new, even when I don’t have any notifications set on the tabs to remind me about anything new. Starting the day with all the different fun, distracting things turned off is the easy part. The hard part is turning them back off when I decide to take a break.

Overall, I’m relieved and freed. I was trying all sorts of things to “find something to write about” or to “find inspiration” or to “find creativity,” not realizing that all that pursuit was really making things worse. All I needed was a minute or two to let my mind speak, and the epiphany hit me in the darkness. Clearly, I can’t write in the dark, but it’s with eyes closed that I found the light I so desperately needed..

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