Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

A Prescription for Stillness

Silas House reminds writers of the crucial importance of focus

December 5, 2012 “Many of the aspiring writers I know talk about writing more than they actually write,” writes novelist and playwright Silas House in a new essay for The New York Times. House—who two years ago left Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, to teach at Berea College in Kentucky—argues that “too many writers today are afraid to be still.”

House himself is no ascetic, and he doesn’t call for retreat from the world: “I’m not talking about the kind of stillness that involves locking yourself in a room with a laptop, while you wait for the words to come. We writers must learn how to become still in our heads, to achieve the sort of stillness that allows our senses to become heightened.” To learn to use time efficiently, he recommends using “every moment we can to think about the piece of writing at hand, to see the world through the point of view of our characters, to learn everything we can that serves the writing.” Walking through the world in this heightened state of observation and awareness will help to incubate ideas into words: “This way of being must be something that we have to turn off instead of actively turn on. It must be the way we live our lives.”

Click here to read House’s blog in full, and here to read a personal essay written by House for Chapter 16.