So recently I’ve been thinking a lot about noise.
More specifically; When I’m alone in the car, or alone in the house, my first inclination is to reach for my phone, plonk Spotify on and saturate my inner world with noise.
Now, I love music. Music most often fills my heart, mind and soul with colour and joy and life. This isn’t some horrendous diatribe against the evils of listening to music.
But one day I made the decision to stop listening to music in the car when I was alone. Just for a bit.
This was often just a ten minutes or so after I dropped my wife off at work, but I started to notice something really interesting.
My inner thought life is insecure, suspicious, and above all it’s venomously critical.
And because I tend to put music on when I’m alone with my thoughts I just… Didn’t notice!
But the good news is, when confronted directly by these thoughts, I was able to recognise that, actually, they were fictitious.
I mean yes, some may emerge from some massively exaggerated version of reality, but writers, let’s be honest; Everything we write springs from some massively exaggerated version of reality.
Is it based on reality? Yes. Is it fictional? Yes.
The point being I realised that when I gave myself the opportunity to face the insecure, suspicious and venomously critical thoughts that were directed towards myself head on, to allow the dragons of my Worst Possible Fears about myself to rise up to full height, expose their jaws and snap their teeth, it led me to a simple truth.
“There is no way I am as bad as I think I am.”
I’m not as bad a friend, colleague, husband as I sometimes think I am.
And I’m not as bad a writer as I think I am.
Because when you cancel out the noise, even briefly, you realise that actually it’s not even possible to be as bad as you sometimes think you are and be completely aware of it.
People who are as bad as you think you are lack self awareness and the ability to recognise the impact their actions have. The very fact that you have those worries about your behaviour means that you are not one of those people.
And people who are terrible writers? They’re terrible writers because the suspicion doesn’t enter their head that they’re actually a terrible writer. That’s what makes them a terrible writer.
So if you’re afraid you’re actually a terrible writer then good news; You have all the tools you need to become a better writer.
Because when you know your shortcomings you can target them.
And when you’re blind to them they sit in a dark little corner, gleefully ruining your writing without you noticing.
So I had a little holiday from noise.
And I know this blog post has diverged a bit from my usual writing focussed content.
But being a better writer and working at being a better person are intrinsically linked.