Thursday, October 6, 2011

narley ninja sophia chang!

I kind of have a bloggy crush on Sophia ~ she's like the me I wish I were, except a zillion times cooler and awesome in every way. So I bow to my friend, Sophia, and offer you her wisdom on Forms & Techniques. . .

The Vow of Silence
by Sophia Chang

Community. The writing blogosphere says we need it. It's true.

But there's something just as important as connecting and sharing:

Learning solitude and silence.

There's a tradition of silence at various monastic orders that serves to deepen one's spiritual path.

Writers especially can learn from this practice of withholding excess communication - after all, we work in a solitary field. As much gabbing as we do on Twitter or blogs, in the end, the work is between you and your computer or paper.

I've taken a vow of silence with my writing. My betas/CPs don't even read it until I've gone through at least 3 revisions in seclusion.

I hold the fire of my work within my body, so my Muse has plenty to feed on day and night. So when I sit at my keyboard, the story is literally bursting out of my chest, dying to be put into words. This is my way of honoring the work. Of saying to it, "You come first. Nothing else matters."

Silence is a faith practice. A commitment to your work.

You may feel lonely when you start this. I grew up a Lonely Only, so I'm used to having to entertain myself for hours, and having to do things without help. It may not be for everyone.

Try it.You decide how long you can hold your silence - through the first 50 pages? The first draft?

Instead of telling everyone about your shiny new idea, hold it in. The public can wait. Give it to your Muse first. When it comes down to it, she's the one writing it.

About Sophia ~

Sophia is a former film/TV actor and playwright who now writes YA fantasy. She's been writing and editing professionally for 8 years and maintains a ninja silence about her current WIP.

Visit Sophia at her blog, or follow her on Twitter!

Sophia, thank you for this! I have never considered silence as a writing tool, but . . . I think I'm gonna try it!

 ♥ ♥ ♥

narley ninjas is a weekly feature here and at the dojo. Every Thursday I feature one of you ~ a writing ninja, training hard to become a black belt and a master of your art. If you would like to be featured, simply join the dojo with the linky tool on the dojo page, and wear a ninja badge (with a link back to me) on your own blog. Come train with us!

Be sure to join us for #ninjachat, here on the blog, at 2:00 p.m. MDT!


  1. 6, 2011 at 5:33 AM

    Great post!

  2. Sophia is SO fascinating...

    Great post. It's so cool to read about other authors and bloggers.

  3. What a great post! Sophia is amazing. Thanks Ali!

  4. Love this: "Silence is a faith practice. A commitment to your work."

    Thanks Sophia and Ali! :-)

  5. I use to get so excited about whatever I was working on that I wanted to talk about it with others, and I did. With my newest project, I decided to keep quiet. (Although I did finally post a short blurb about it on my blog yesterday.) I don't post updates on Twitter or anything like that. I've also vowed to finish the first draft and do at least one round of revisions before I let anyone near the pages, which is a first for me—I typically let my sister read as I write.

    And, I'm really happy I'm doing it this way. Great post!

  6. This is a GREAT practice! I agree. Too many times writers send stuff off to their betas, and don't figure things out for themselves. I think it's good to ponder and hone the manuscript on your own, to learn how, to see how to trust your instincts and improve your own work. THEN show it to your betas and CPs. :) Otherwise you may get their input too soon, and it's not really "your" story.

  7. Love this post, and it's so true! I used to be better about keeping the story in, holding my secrets close, and it does spur the writing because you're dying to get it out. I'll have to pull back and keep to this track again.

    Thanks Sophia for the reminder, and ali, as usual, for hosting!

  8. I actually had to stop and take a deep breath after reading this post because that's seriously deep food for thought. Thank you to ali and Sophia.

  9. I used to let my CPs read as I wrote, but now I wait until I've completed a first draft and revised the heck out of it. Much better for me to work through the process, and leave the editing to a later date.

  10. No one sees my work until it's polished to a dull shine!

  11. Give it to your muse first- I like that idea. While social media makes it nice and easy to connect to other writers, writing itself is a solitary pursuit.

    Ali, thanks for hosting Sophia.

  12. Thank you everyone for your comments. It's so great to hear at what stage of silence everyone maintains.

    Carol - that's exactly what I believe too. Learning self-revision is another great lesson out of "silence" (i.e. keeping things to yourself for a while).

    Thanks for having me, Ali!

  13. Fascinating. I don't know that I can do this. I wanted to finish my current WIP and go through one revision before sending it to anyone, but I already buckled and sent a section to my CP. I had to. I become too riddled with insecurity to continue sometimes.
    Perhaps on the next one...

  14. Nice post! I can see the value of silence. I know that when I'm quiet and alone (often on a walk) ideas come to me. Likewise while ironing or in the shower. It seems a logical extension that, if you maintain silence, it would be easier for the words to come out on the page, although I haven't ever formally committed to silence for writing. It's an interesting idea!

  15. Ali - great post! Thanks for sharing with us.

  16. Brilliant! What a fantastic post - full of spirit and wisdom and inspiration! That is exactly how I write. I write the whole book first and edit until I have it where I want it, and then I run it through critique group and beta readers. Thank you Sophia!

    And thank you Ali for bringing this to us - you've blessed us all!

    I'm sad I missed Ninja Chat again! I was at the UVU Con. It seems that things keep happening on Thurs. I can't wait to join in!

  17. Nice advice. I don't like talking about my stories while I'm writing them. It seems too private to let out until I'm ready.

  18. awesome post. Of course, being Sophia's friend means I have a hard time envisioning her being silent at anything (she's just too energetic!) but I do agree with what she says. :)


  19. wow. this is one ninja powerful post. Give it to your muse first. Love that. Very hard for me to imagine, I think I'd burst with a shiny new idea that I didn't share. But good to think about.

  20. Aww thanks for such wonderful comments everyone.

    As Angie said, it's definitely private! I've shared work too early with creative writing classes, had it torn apart when it was just bare bones already, and put that piece down for years before I could pick it back up again. A piece isn't ready to face the light of the world's ready. :)

  21. Thanks Sophia for this great tip "instead of telling everyone about your shiny new idea, hold it in. The public can wait."

    Great feature :).

  22. Congratulations, Ali. That's an interesting idea about writing.

    On the other hand, I'm a big believer in talking out problems in my writing, but maybe that's the key distinction - talk to other people when you've got a problem you need to work through, not when you're just excited about your writing.

  23. I totally have a bloggy crush on Sophia too ;) And I've learned some of the art of silence from her. I must admit, it's working well for this WIP.


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