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Space … Silence … Solitude … [What I Need More of as a Blogger]

As I reflect upon the times when I’ve felt most “effective” as a blogger (and perhaps as a human), I think it’s times when I’ve built these three things into life.

Space

Perhaps it’s just me and my personality, but I find that if I don’t create space…

  • to reflect on life
  • to consider how I’m feeling
  • to analyze what I’ve experienced
  • to ponder priorities.

then I tend to allow the busyness of my life determine what I do, rather than letting what is important determine my actions.

I find that if I don’t create space, blogging either doesn’t happen, or it happens in a very ad hoc way without me really thinking clearly about the journey I want to take readers on.

Silence

Solitude

Image copyright Tyler Olson - Fotolia.com

If I don’t create silence, I don’t notice the gold in the clutter of life.

I need to turn off what distracts me sometimes—Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, the Media, the iPhone—to truly hear what I need to hear.

I spend too much time broadcasting, and I need to learn to listen more. When I do listen, I find what I say is more useful to others.

Solitude

I spend a lot of time alone physically, but emotionally, in the work that I do online, I’m realizing that I’m not switching off from those around me.

This point is connected perhaps to the silence I mention above, but the realization that I’m having is that I need to build times of solitude into my life.

I need to learn how to disengage—if only for short periods of time—from the conversations, the requests, and the demands of readers, friends, and followers.

I need to do this not because these people are unimportant, but because if I don’t experience solitude, I’m not really in a position to be able to help anyone.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Wendy says:

    Amen!

  2. Right on Darren. This comes from the principle of the need to take care of yourself first before you can take care of another being. I have and sometimes still try to take care of everyone and everything that needs to be done – neglecting myself in the process.

    I am also a person who recharges with lots of space and quiet time. Without it I will become too stressed and of very little value to anyone else.

  3. I can totally relate to this list. Technology has truly taken over my life at a certain degree. Time to get things back in order of priorities. Demands are always going to be there, whether we like it or not. I see blogging as a hobby and not an obligation. Otherwise, its impossible to unplug.

  4. Rhoda says:

    That is so true! We just moved house and I’ve been incredibly busy with that, and three small children, and homeschooling. I’ve don’t even know what I want to write about at the moment because I haven’t had the space in my day or in my mind to think and reflect on things. Thanks for the encouragement to disengage a bit, now I just have to figure out when :)

  5. Ali Rowan says:

    I find this an interesting change of pace from the usual posts about what bloggers/creatives need to be successful. Very often, these lists include inspiration, going for a walk, learning something new, etc. They all suggest finding stimuli. You, however, have found that you actually need to shut all that stimuli out. I identify with this a lot. I’m an introvert without question—I don’t just need these things to blog, I need them to stay sane!

  6. Anabelle says:

    Beautiful, succinct piece.

    I have a friend who has once argued that people like ipods so much because they are afraid of being alone with their thoughts. Music is a nice way to distract your mind when walking or taking transit.

    But how can your really listen if there’s always noise in your ears?

  7. Exactly! I think I could devote a whole blog to just this – not sure how it would work though… :)

  8. Paula says:

    Darren,
    I think that’s where faith (for me, Christianity) comes in handy. I believe all strength, success, whatever I get is because I hand it over to God and ask His advice on the journey. In order to accomplish this, I take time daily to read the Bible (which I think of as God’s word), pray for others and myself, and seek quiet guidance. Usually that means sitting in my back yard and taking in the details of God’s creation just to keep perspective on my litte piece of it.

    Does faith play a role in this arena for you?

  9. I am very fortunate to have enough time and solitude right now. In the past, I have had to create during chaos and it wasn’t very productive.

  10. Kara Kelso says:

    I found it ironic to see this post today because I found myself flying on a blog post when in a quiet spot alone. I hadn’t been that prroductive in a long time. I couldn’t agree more that a writer’s bestfriend is all three of theses things together.

  11. Sandi Amorim says:

    Having recently unplugged for 5 days I understand where you’re coming from. I think when our work is so much for others, it’s doubly essential to make that time for what we need ourselves. It’s like the oxygen mask on the plane analogy. Chances are some days, we’d probably die due to not putting on the mask first!

  12. Lella says:

    I agree: Silence is golden :) I have no idea how people write and surf with music on!

  13. Rudi says:

    Hopefully you get the enlightenment of the soul in contemplation .. in order to provide something better for us …

  14. Tiffany says:

    This is so true for me too! These days the only place I can get true solitude, silence and space is in my car. I love it on crisp morning with a great cup of coffee. I’m able to freely create, write and think.

  15. As an aspiring blogger, I totally agree. You have to take time to reflect and contemplate and decompress to be able to serve others. Many of us stay with that busyness constantly and wonder why we get “stuck.” I believe there is much to be gained through occasional silence.

  16. jason morris says:

    I like to be alone some. i like to get on my treadmill. I also like to read, real books, not ebooks

  17. Justin Dupre says:

    These three things will definitely keep your mind focused on your job.

  18. I feel exactly the same way. I think I feel most inspired and most human on days when I can wake up in the morning and just lay in bed thinking, without sleeping, for about an hour before getting up. Space. Reflection. Silence. Golden.

  19. Daniel says:

    Darren,

    To add some levity to this post, when you started off with SPACE…………….I was expecting to next read…………..THE FINAL FRONTIER……………..

    Okay, blame it on one to many Star trek Episodes.

    On a serious note, I hear ya Brother.

    If we do not have time aside from all the hustle and bustle, both online and offline, it can be quite draining.

    Life is all about balance………….

  20. James Greg says:

    I experienced something different while studying. When I’m studying something like Maths or Stats I do better when music or the T.V is turned on. Although it does not mean looking at T.V but complete silence clogs my mind, but when its stuff like literature then complete silence is the best remedy.

  21. Stuart says:

    Blogging is a reflection of life Darren, and it’s a reflection of us. As is everything else we do in life. I know that sounds awfully Buddhist, but I believe it’s true.

    Trying to get your voice heard in a crowd is nigh on impossible, unless you’ve got something worth shouting about. Even then, why not step away from the crowd, stand on your own, and then promote what you’ve got? If you’re away from the crowd, more people will notice you, and so more people will wonder about ‘this guy who doesn’t follow the crowd’.

    Find space first before anything else :-)

  22. Colby Keeler says:

    What’s most incredible is how we are so important to ourselves yet have to force ourselves set aside the me time that we really need. I’m finding lately that I can’t find the time to review/update my planner (which at times can be a lifesaver for me) yet I can always find the time to scramble around trying to remember what I need to get done, who I need to contact, etc. It’s like they tell you when you get on a plane; in case of an emergency, put on your oxygen mask first and then help others.
    Thanks for putting things back into perspective and reminding us who comes first.

  23. Pamela Miles says:

    Space, silence and solitude are a vital part of self-care. This is what having a daily spiritual practice provides. Whether we practice meditation, prayer, taiji, qigong, Reiki, or something else, committing to a daily practice builds retreat time into everyday and nourishes us from deeply within.

  24. Daniel Wong says:

    Thanks for sharing, Darren.

    I especially liked your point about silence. Being so connected to the internet can really be a terrible thing! It’s become acceptable to be playing with your phone, even when you’re having lunch with a couple of friends.

    Our desire to be constantly entertained is strong– and it’s easily satisfied with Facebook, Twitter, etc. On the other hand, when you interact with people face-to-face, you have to listen politely even if you don’t think that what they’re saying is interesting. You have to be at least somewhat courteous. But the gratification you get through Facebook and the like is so immediate, and you’re completely in control of whether or not you feel “entertained.”

    That’s why people would rather play with their phones than engage in real conversation.

    You’re right– listening is so important, even though it’s becoming a bigger challenge to take the time to do that.

    I appreciate your heartfelt post!

  25. Absolutely O says:

    Sometimes , it’s enough to disconnect and spend some time alone !

  26. I’ve always needed “alone time” to recharge. But I find that time shrinking as I’m tethered to my computer and iPhone 24/7. We are now at the point where people clients, colleagues and friends demand an instant response to everything. We’ve become addicted to always being in touch. A recent study showed the people “loved” their iPhones, How did we get like this?

  27. Tammy says:

    It’s so easy to let days, weeks, months pass without stopping to live in a single moment. Habit leads me to have something going in the background. Putting ourselves in time out so we can actually process all these stimuli is vital. I schedule a full day once a year where I unplug and see how far I’ve come and look to where I want to be. It happens to be this weekend, and I’m looking forward to it.

    Thanks for reminding all of us of the importance of silence.

  28. Oh wow, Darren. I loved reading this sincere post. I have a night to myself tonight, and reading this reminds me to take part of it to unplug.

    I have found that even when I feel impossibly busy, there are always ways to sneak in silence and reflection by looking honestly at my daily habits. For example, I don’t HAVE to listen to music or talk radio when I go for a run, there’s no law that says I must read on the subway during my commute.

  29. this couldn’t be more true and is just what I needed to read today.

    I put these self-imposed deadlines and expectations on myself that just make me crazy.

    The worst part, is I work harder at this than anything I have done in my life with NO MONEY….I make it seem like I have a boss whipping me to get moving and the pressure is all from ME!

    I went for a walk and out to lunch w/a non-blogging girlfriend today. I had a great time but was overcome w/guilt and emails when I returned home!

  30. There are moments in my life that I feel like I’m crammed from all the constant updates and stresses of an internet life. Everything happens in warp speed, that sometimes you really can’t keep up. When I do have the opportunity to just sit and think, I feel recharged. It’s a much needed time, and I think everyone needs that once in a while.

  31. Paul says:

    Yes…I too have the same feeling. I need more time without any distractions. Walking, jogging and taking a long drive out in the country helps a lot. Just be sure to leave your tools at home.

    Paul

  32. BigLinda says:

    So True ! All these media aroud us make us forget the value of silence.
    I am glad you brought this up. Keep up the good work :)

  33. hi darren,

    thanks for the wise words. i hope you have all 3 s’s in the right amount and proportion.

    take care,
    mb

  34. So right!! This post really resonates with me since I’ve spent the last 10 months crowded into 2 small rooms with my partner while we lost over half of our house to a major repair/renovation. Virginia Woolf was right.

  35. Bala Koh says:

    all I can say is Wow

  36. It encourages me to be in solitude more and hear the Whispers of the One calling me to this vocation of blogging. Thank you for the post.

  37. Rick says:

    Listening to the silence is an art, moving in the silence is even more difficult, over the years, Tai Chi has been my gateway – It’s a regimen, and I need that, something to do that helps me put it all together. Great timing on this post.. thanks for the reminder…

  38. PatrckB says:

    It reminds me of what Andy Stanley says about building “margin” into our lives. If we fill our lives to the brim then we have no margin.
    I love his book “Choosing to Cheat” http://store.northpoint.org/choosing-to-cheat.html