Slow Down, Writers. Slow Down

Oh, sloth, how I love thee as both creature and symbol.  Photo by Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash

The 24-7 news cycle. Social media. Email. Good glory, information comes at us fast and furious.  Sometimes, it can feel like a writer needs to be like a machine-gun of responses – rapid-fire and scatter-shot – just to be heard.

We have deadlines. We need answers to requests (You should see me as I wait for responses to our requests of guest speakers for the writers’ retreat.). We work in a very fast, very connected culture.

But for the love of pete, could we all just slow down a little bit? After all, writing is not often something best served by rapid-fire work. It takes rumination and consideration, a little living in the white spaces.  Maybe sometimes, we need to let the immediate response go in favor of the larger story.

Spaciousness, Graciousness, and Truth

Most of the writers I know write quickly, particularly for things like blogs or articles on current issues. We don’t have the benefit of weeks or months to consider things in a lot of instances. But sometimes (maybe even often?) our work – and the thinking that our work requires – suffers because we are in such a hurry.

When we can slow down, when we choose to slow down, though, suddenly, our writing becomes more spacious. There’s more room for the reader to breath, more openness within the words to allow a reader to turn around and consider, more air for us all.  Writing that’s done too quickly is often too dense. . . or completely vacuous.

We also open up space for grace when we slow down. We make room for grace for the people we write about and for ourselves as we write. I suspect most of us know what it is to dash off something – for a magazine, for social media, for an email – only to wish we hadn’t sent it into the world so quickly.  We need to hold room for grace – to allow ourselves to be angry without responding, to give ourselves a chance to learn more, to keep open the opportunity for further understanding.

And slowing down also allows us to seek truth in all its richness and complexity. Truth is not often the first thing we encounter. It’s usually tucked behind masks and bureaucracy, efficiency and limited perspectives. It takes time to unearth truth because truth is hard-earned, hard-fought, hard-understood. We buy into a lie when we pretend that truth is apparent and easy. In my experience, it never is . . . or at least it’s never easy for me to actually see it beyond my own prejudices and preferences.

Let’s Make a Pact for Slowness

So let’s make a commitment to one another that we will slow down, that we will take a breath or a day or a month or two before we hit publish or send.  I’ll commit to that slowness, to walking away when my emotions get ahead of my good judgment, to thinking through my reactions to the news before I decide I know what I think, to trusting that more time may lead me to broader, richer truth.

Sure, sometimes, we need that immediate article. Sometimes, we need quickness and launching within the frenzy. That’s unavoidable in the age of global communication.

But maybe more often we need meditative consideration, the gift of deep breath, and a trust that if we take a moment, we may find more than we ever imagined.