Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted,

no solutions searched for.”  --Maya Angelou

I started off 2012 reading an article in the New York Times Sunday Review, by essayist and novelist Pico Iyer. “The Joy of Quiet” looks at how in just a single generation, we’ve moved from a society embracing all sorts of technology to one that is trying to get away from the same tools and find a little peace and stillness. Iyer notes that parents in some Asian countries send their children away to Internet rescue camps and pay big bucks for getaways where they have no access to TVs or cell phones. He says the future may consist of “black hole resorts,” that offer no online access.

Iyer also talks about a tool more writers are turning to in an effort to have quiet time to write. The software, Freedom, is an application you can download that “locks you away from the internet on Mac or Windows computers for up to eight hours at a time,” the company states on its website (http://macfreedom.com/). What makes it work is the fact that users have to have to reboot to get back online, which is a real hassle for most people – especially poor writers with old laptops that take forever to reboot.

While I wholeheartedly agree that writers need quiet time to compose their poems, plays, and novels, there are less expensive ways to do this. Maya Angelou wrote about having a day away in her book, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for my Journey Now. At least once a year, she wrote, she informs friends and family that she will not be reachable for 24 hours. Then she dresses in comfortable clothes and leaves her house “going no place.” She wanders city streets, goes to parks, and window shops, staying no place for any length of time. She works for amnesia, she says, a chance to forget her problems and responsibilities. “A day away,” she says, “acts as a spring tonic. It can dispel rancor, transform indecision, and renew the spirit.”

While escaping for an entire day can do wonders for both our souls and our writing, it’s not always possible, especially when it comes to the silence we need each time we sit down to write. A more practical idea may be one that comes from Eric Maisel. So often we are given advice to “just write for 15 minutes a day,” but, if you are like me, it takes almost that long to settle in to the process, much less actually get any serious writing done. In his book, Coaching the Artist Within, Maisel offers anyone who is engaged in creative work a way to quickly shift into the moment by coming to a full stop and getting centered. It combines breathing with several incantations to help you

  • Come to a complete stop.

  • Empty yourself of expectations.

  • Name your work.

  • Trust your resources.

  • Embrace the present moment

  • Return with strength.

If you are interested in this approach, you can listen to his podcasts on how it works. Click here to get started.

Other ways to find stillness

  • Try writing in a notebook away from your phone and computer. If you have to do any online research, save it for later and do all of it at one time.

  • Set certain times during the day for checking e-mails and returning phone calls – and stick to them.

  • Get a netbook, laptop – or a pad of paper and pen – and head to a park or anyplace that is quiet (okay, January is NOT the best time to do this, but save it for the spring). There are quiet places to be found in winter too: Museums often have little coffee shops that rarely have many people in them during the week – and some don’t even have wi-fi service. Once there, turn off your phone!

So make a commitment to stillness one of your resolutions. For more ways to stick with your writing resolutions, check out my BLOG. I just started a series on ways to jumpstart your writing.