Working Knowledge: The Quieting Process

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The perceptual key to effective writing—words or music, it doesn’t matter—is getting into a space of concentration. I call this the Quieting process: a narrowing of attention where the present is felt as a fully enveloping perpetual now. Yesterday’s work is gone—you can barely recall it!—and tomorrow remains a question mark. You’re left with only this sentence-in-progress in whose tensioned midst you’re ensconced, wondering how it will resolve, or this melody’s trajectory, singing just like so at this micro-moment as you listen to it dissipate, and only then, once it has faded, do you consider your next move. The Quieting process’s narrowing of attention also effortlessly silences naysaying’s resistance. Which brings up an ironic fact about it: Quieting is less something you try to do and more a by-product of doing the work itself. As the words or sounds draw you into their spaces, the “right” direction seems so beside the point. You can proofread or proof-listen for sense later, but right now it’s an adventure. When you’re Quiet, the sound of meaning is clear.

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