As I said in my last post, when coyotes crossed my path, I chose to see them as a sign. Disconnect more was my interpretation of the message. More wildlife was showing up when I ran because there were so few other humans. Animals were reclaiming their space, and I needed to reclaim mine. My inner space.
Looking through the aquarium glass of a computer screen at a version of the world skewed by what people choose to share or make important was getting oppressive. So, I declared a timeout from Facebook, even though I knew I would miss friends’ pictures of their kids and cats and gardens, and links to their art and music. I needed a break from the mix of news and trivia that makes up the rest of Facebook. This freed up writing time. Freed my mind from the urge to scroll, too.
Then my laptop crashed. Like the coyote-powered universe was saying, “Hey, you like your time out? Here’s more.”
And it was good. No news at all. No e-mail. My days out from under the internet allowed me not only to surface from the info-pond but to have a breakthrough. Writing by hand, I outlined my main characters’ life events during the year and six months between the end of the seventh Mae Martin Mystery, Shadow Family, and the beginning of the eighth one. Then I chose five events in that timeline and sketched the plots of short stories. Already, I can already see the effect this insight into the “skipped” time will have on my revisions to book eight.
When FedEx delivered the new laptop, after my four serene and productive days, I had mixed feelings about it, especially once I was swamped with the hassles of getting various setups completed. Everything was about the computer.
Now I’m adapted to it and doing my best to have a different relationship with it than with its predecessor. When I venture onto Facebook, it’s only to get in touch with a few close friends and a group of fellow writers, and then I’m outta there. I do follow the news again, but I limit it to listening while I’m lifting weights or doing housework. I’ve finished a fairly polished version of one short story, completed the first draft of the next, and improvised the opening paragraphs of the third. Writing short fiction is great discipline for tightening scenes in full-length novels. And my time without a computer made me keep flowing as I wrote, no stopping to fix and tinker. I’m applying that process to my first drafts now: keep going to the end. It’s all going to get revised anyway.
Though I’m still one of the world’s slowest writers, I’ve learned how to speed up a little.
3 thoughts on “Surfacing”
I think there’s a lot to be said for shaking up routines. Sounds as if it worked well for you.
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I had a similar experience back in May. Really needed a timeout and it felt so freeing. Like you, going back on social media is different now. I feel like I’m more in touch with both the urge and a better environment to write, play music, read and spend time outside.
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Last year, I went on a digital declutter of sorts (thanks to reading Digital Minimalism). It was an opportune read as I was weary of screen time. It was also information overload that did not help anyone so I scaled back. I’m a little better than last year and take periodic breaks. Once a week, I do not use the laptop at all. It’s day out or cleaning up. I still write by hand a lot, I find it helps me think better.