A Well-Punctuated Writing Life {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 17}

This past summer, Austin Chapman clicked up the volume on a song he’d never heard. When the sound of angelic descants whirled into his ears from a recording of Mozart’s Lacrimosa, the young man wept. It wasn’t just the first time he’d heard this piece of music, it was the first time he’d heard music at all.

Sure, he had felt the boom of bass notes or the room shaking with the beat of a drum, but with revolutionary new hearing aids, he was now able to hear the most delicate of notes and discern the nuances of a song.

People all over the world have been weighing in on what bands or genres he needs to listen to next. He’s been working his way through the centuries and decades, tracing music’s journey and hearing the wide spectrum of sound.

But he has his limits, his ears still sensitive to all the new input.

Ironically, he finds himself turning his “hearing aids off more often than before,” enjoying the pause between notes of conversation or the soothing melodies he’s come to love.

“Silence is still my favorite sound,” he said.

In the comments under the Atlantic article, one reader, abk1985, carried on with the theme saying we should all experiment with a sabbath of sound: “I would recommend putting away the earbuds and keeping the car stereo off for a couple weeks. Then, pick a quiet Saturday afternoon when you have nothing you have to do, and deliberately sit down and listen….to go from [silence] to actually hearing it: always a spine tingling experience!”

We come back with ears fresh for the full experience of music. The pauses between notes lend greater power to the sound. The silence gives us margin to ponder the last tone and anticipate the next.

As much as writing may feel like a fun hobby or a fulfilling outlet for us, when we are writing consistently for a readership in the form of blog posts, magazine articles or books, writing can be work…even bordering on squirrely overactivity at times.

But then there’s God who showed His artistry in speaking Word to make the world. He carved out a Hebrew sequence of 56 Sabbath words on the Sinai tablets, three verses full in our translation. He wrote the fourth commandment longer than the rest and He must have done so for a reason.

Last weekend at a writer’s conference, 24/6 author Matthew Sleeth shared words that resonate with the linguist in me: “God did not intend your life to be one long run-on sentence. You take out the punctuation when you take out the Sabbath.”

So, gather your bits of story, draft a mess in your scratch journal, then let your words rest a bit. Enjoy a sabbath. You’ll come back to your work refreshed and ready for crescendo.

{How does the idea of sabbath play into your work as a writer? What sorts of things do you find restful and restorative? What results have you seen when you’ve set your writing aside for a time and come back to it later?}

This is Day 17 of my series 31 Days ~ Preserve Your Story, linking up with The Nester’s annual 31 Days of Change.

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10 thoughts on “A Well-Punctuated Writing Life {Preserve Your Story ~ Day 17}

  1. Being a part of this years NaNoWriMo… This totally resonates with me. I’m horrible about knowing when to take a break and my body has been telling me as much lately. Good reminder to give my mind a break too. :)

    • I find that if I don’t plan the break, my body and mind end up forcing one on me anyway through lethargy or sickness. I know I will feel much more inspired and productive if I schedule in that time of rest instead of letting it go until crisis point. Hope you’re able to relax and then get back to NaNoWriMo with full steam!

  2. I actually took last Sunday off (and plan to take all of them off in Nov) for NaNoWriMo, and I found Monday much more productive. Being ahead of my word count now, I actually took another break yesterday just to chill with kiddos and husband, cook a delicious dinner, and exist in the moment. This morning, I couldn’t wait to get back! :) Love the music references. I have to turn off the sound usually to write–and though I adore music, I need moments of silence to reflect and refuel as well.

    Great post! :)

    • I was wondering how you NaNoWriMo folks would feel about this post. I find it very difficult to work at full throttle for days on end. When I committed to do this 31 days Preserve Your Story series, I had a pretty good idea the days weren’t going to be consecutive. I need lots of space between thoughts for my words on any one thought to make sense. What a testament to the concept of sabbath rest that you are still ahead on your word count!

    • I’d love that. I’ll send the file to your email. P.S. My husband and I are enjoying reading a bit of 24/6 each night before bed. We are so in need of a better rhythm for our days and weeks.

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