The Art of Shutting Up and Keeping Secrets

by | Mar 12, 2018 | Inspiration, Writing Tips

When we start writing, we get excited and want to share our happy news like a newly pregnant mother-to-be. We want to blab to everyone, ‘Hey, I’m writing a book.’ It’s hard to keep a secret as big and beautiful as this.

But we must. If we care about what we’re doing, we have to learn to shut up and keep secrets.

A writer I mentor sent me a tearful email because her husband (her number 1 fan and supporter with whom she was sharing all her writing) had innocently asked her, ‘So how exactly is this thing going to become a book?’

And just like that, the beautiful clean kitchen of her self esteem where she was cooking up her story, got trashed.

Even our biggest fans do not understand never to ask how, but when?
When is your book coming out? Not how?

There’s a great book by Peter Block called, The Answer to How is Yes.

‘How?’ is not a creative question and certainly not an empowering one. It is fear based. And as writers-in-the-making, we do not dabble with that devil.

We should not share our writing with the world while our writing is still a little book-foetus inside us.

If we’ve ever been pregnant, and seen our little pea with its beating heart on the ultrasound, we don’t ask, ‘How am I going to turn this blob into a baby?’ No, we just know that something is growing and by some magical alchemy of us, and God, and DNA, and folate, and bit of luck, that a baby will arrive. When it’s ready. We’re part of the process, but there are other forces at work too.

It’s like that with our writing. For a while, it’s a little book-blob. It doesn’t know yet how it’s going to grow its heart and toes and eyelashes. But it will. If we shut up, and let it get on with it. Mysteries don’t like to be interrogated.

Learning to shut up and keep secrets are inherent to the art of gestation. We don’t celebrate conception publicly. We wait for birth.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

On Backstory, Flashbacks and Character Memories

Writing question: When and how do I use backstory, flashbacks and character memories? To bring a character to life, to make them complex, sympathetic and richly conceived, they need context and history. We want to know where they’ve been, what they’ve experienced and...

Sometimes, People Don’t Trust Me

Sometimes, people don’t trust me. Here's why: When someone comes to me with a burning desire to write, or a story that’s wormed its way into their core, I am a cheerleader. Like the craziest, wildest, noisiest fan: ‘Go!’ ‘Keep going!’ 'You can do this! You’re almost...

Keeping Faith

You can tell when someone is hungry. People who are hungry have dry lips. Chapped with dry bits that stick every so often when they talk. They do not pause to lick them, the frayed seams at their mouths. Most of my clients at (POWA) People Opposing Women Abuse, a...

How Do You Say the Thing You Are Not Allowed to Say?

“What is the source of our first suffering? It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak....it was born in the moments when we accumulated silent things within us.” - Gaston Bachelard There are things we are allowed to say and things we are not allowed to say. We...

On Returning to the Home I Grew Up In

We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there. ―Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon I sit and watch the sun come up over Johannesburg...

Who Are You to Write Your Story?

Over the past years, I’ve been working with ordinary women who are writing the ordinary stories of their lives. 'Why would anyone care about my story?' each one asks in her way. 'Who am I to write my story?' 'What does my life matter? I’ve done nothing special. I’m...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *