When I started my blog, I spent days crafting each post. It was a thankless process of writing, re-writing, editing, scrapping, metaphorically screwing up the digital paper and often starting from scratch over and over. I would pour absolutely all of my being into it – my emotion, time and silly amounts of mental energy.
It would then take a long time for me to get to a place where I was willing to publish, and even at this point it would take an enormous amount of will power to actually push the button.
At the end of the process I would invariably be exhausted and petrified of what people would say.
“People are going to hate me!” I would think, as I refreshed my email every couple of minutes, anticipating the barrage of abuse.
At this point however, something unanticipated (but standard) would generally happen…
I would refresh my real time Google Analytics: 50 visitors. But none of them made a peep.
“They must be so repulsed by my words that they are speechless,” I would irrationally declare to myself slumping deep into my chair with a throbbing head. “Perhaps I’ll just give up this writing thing.”
This would happen time after time. As far as I was concerned I was following the rules, delivering what I believed to be decent content, under compelling headlines, but still no one was engaging. What was I doing wrong?
And then occasionally I would cross real world paths with people who had been following what I was writing, and invariably they would tell me how good they found what I was doing on the blog, asking about specific posts that I had written.
I was thrown. I had convinced myself that people hated it because of the silence, but this was perhaps not actually the case.
As I continued, buoyed slightly by the fact that there did seem to be people listening, I began to grow into my voice. I became more comfortable with my style, the ideas I was dealing with and the way I was expressing them. Then I had a small epiphany…
It became evident that the silence was not actually an enemy.
It was not the deafening call of ‘stop!’ that I had previously assumed.
No, it was actually the encouraging wave through of permission: the space for me to play, to discover and to experiment.
People will reach out once you’ve established trust and context
As I persisted, my readership grew steadily, readers were sharing my content, and comments were trickling through to old posts as well as the newer ones.
It struck me that I behaved in much the same way when looking at a blog for the first time. Before I was happy to comment on and share their ideas I needed to be able to trust the writer, and for trust to happen I would require context.
Context comes from many things, but can be provided by previous posts, the About page on the site, and social networking updates (to name a few).
So, I concluded, when I was starting out and had relatively few posts, my context was thin; readers were still sussing me out.
Then, the more I shipped, the more people became confident that they ‘got me’, and so they grew more comfortable as I grew more comfortable (in a trusting, rather than lethargic way).
We need to embrace the permission of silence in our lives
When all is still and we are greeted by quiet, the possibilities are endless. We can step into it, make ripples as we begin to explore ourselves, and play with the ideas that compel us to act.
We are not at the end, we never will be. We are deeply embedded in the process of discovery; the unearthing of our voice (our art), we are forever creating and subtly redirecting our context with everything we do. As we step forward the silence is our friend, it gives us the space for trust, for authenticity and for a renewed sense of self.
Think about the things that you do which are met by quiet.
Now see them as a part of the creation of your context – stick with them and embrace the permission that you have been given to explore the potential possibilities of your endeavors.
When your ideas are greeted with silence do you see it as permission or pronouncement? Does it inspire you to explore deeper or make you want to curl up and disappear?
Andy Mort is a UK based musician and writer. He has been described as having a “daring and innovative approach to creating and releasing modern music, which has proved him and his alter-ego Atlum Schema to be a bright beacon in the depths of British music today.” To apparently compound this description he released his latest single as a mask, more information about which is available from AtlumSchema.com where he also writes a blog on creativity, art and things that inspire.