What happened to me when I decided to banish myself from the internet: I WROTE MORE.
The rules I set for myself were pretty draconian. I initially set a five day prohibition on posting and commenting on blogs, but I didn’t stop there. No YouTube, podcasts, IM/Chat, LibraryThing, Goodreads, Shelfari, Facebook: the whole Pandora’s Box of internet delights.
I was moderately successful, but I did cheat a little. I commented on a couple of blog posts. I peeked at Google Reader and I read and responded to email. I Twittered.
When I first heard about Twitter I resisted for quite a while. I couldn’t see the point, but I will concede that posting under 140 characters a few times a day was my methadone. It kept me from feeling completely unplugged and it made me want to check in and post that I’d done something useful – like maybe that I’d gotten some writing or reading done.
To help with the unholy temptations, I made some physical accommodations. I put my laptop on my desk and left it there. I kept my notebook and pen within arms reach at all times. Normally, I leave my laptop on the bedside table at night, drag the laptop into the living room when we’re watching a movie and sometimes I bring it into the kitchen or out onto the deck.
Here’s what I found out: no matter how lightweight the web browsing activity is, it is taking up headspace at the time I’m engaged. When I stay away from all distraction and keep my WIP at the forefront of my brain, it tends to stay with me. Even when I’m working, I can keep my WIP somewhere near conscious thought and much to my surprise, I found that I could take short breaks during the work day to jot down ideas and even do some actual writing. The notebook has actually become a replacement addiction for the internet and I now write a little just before I settle in to read at bedtime and I typically write a little as soon as I wake up. I also write down all kinds of random ideas and even bits and pieces of flash fiction. I didn’t do that before.
This morning when I woke up, the electricity was out in my house. I checked all the breakers and wandered around in a caffeine deprived state for a little while and finally saw a neighbor outside who told me that it was out all over our subdivision. She woke up at 4:30 this morning, presumably when it went out and the electric company recording said they hoped to have it back on by 11:30. The electricity was out all day long and didn’t come back until after 7 P.M. Freaky! But, I wrote more, finished one book and got halfway through another (which I read aloud to Scott – kind of fun in an 1840’s way).
I enjoy writing blog posts and reading and commenting on other blogs far too much to quit entirely, but I also feel a whole lot better about engaging with my work and making progress on my WIP than I do about web surfing for most of the day.
I used to think that I needed to schedule time to write and I’d get frustrated when I couldn’t find that time. When I did, it was always a struggle to get back into the current of the WIP. I now know that I can stay in the current as long as I’m not constantly filling that negative headspace with other things.
We could use more days without electricity.