Lessons Learned from a (Short) Digital Detox

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It’s never been more important to live with purpose, on purpose. To live intentionally.

— Colin Wright, The Becoming Tour

I’ve learned that I don’t do “intention” very well. Habit and convenience are extremely powerful and seductive forces. It’s easy to sacrifice long-term gains for short-term pleasures. As someone with an addictive personality who doesn’t handle discomfort well and struggles with self-discipline and depression, I feel pretty susceptible to these temptations. It seems like the bad habits, such eating too much sugar and compulsively checking Facebook, are the ones who gain a foothold. They sneak in and become difficult to dislodge, probably because they appear harmless and require little to no effort.

This year, I took a four-day vacation by myself to the beach. I decided to do a mini-digital detox by wearing a watch instead of keeping my phone with me and spend as much time outside as I could, as long as the weather held. I also planned to spend any rainy hours in a comfortable room continuing to write or read. But things didn’t go quite the way I’d planned. While the view of the ocean from the motel was lovely and the weather remained good, the room I was staying in was… well, not very pleasant. Musty-smelling, moldy, and so saturated with humidity that leaving anything outside a plastic bag meant it would be damp within a few minutes. On top of that, even though the motel technically had wi-fi (which I could get if I sat out on the balcony), I couldn’t get it in the room itself.

I was rather upset and frustrated at first, but I soon realized that this could be a blessing in disguise. A gross room with no wi-fi meant I had to stay outside during 90% of my visit. It forced me to be parsimonious with my time on the internet. If I was going to use it, it had to be for a specific purpose, not just random searching or mindless scrolling. Get on, get off, and save data for the GPS. On the beach, I discovered the joy of wearing a watch. You might wonder what the point of a watch is. I mean, you can just check your phone, right? But opening that phone also opens the temptation to “just check one thing” and before you know it, what was supposed to be a 2-minute check-in turns into a 2-hour deep-dive. A smartphone can do too much. A watch only tells time. That is it’s sole purpose. Using a watch instead of a smartphone and being cut off from the internet meant the number of distractions dropped to near zero. I literally had nothing to do except read, write, walk, and think.

“The Jetty” (Personal photograph; taken Sept. 19, 2018)

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I Am Not My Job

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Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

 

It must be the weather.

I started this entry in October 2017. With a few tweaks, it is just as relevant to my state of mind today in September 2018 as it was then.

The problem with being responsible at a day job is that so few people are, so you get more responsibility and expectation heaped upon you until you start to smother. I don’t know if it’s because of how stressful the year has been or what, but my focus has dropped and I’m retreating back into long-running TV shows and oldie-but-goodie favorite movies to cope. While I love me some good stories, I can’t stay there forever.

Even with burnout knocking at my door.

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The Glory Illusion of War

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“War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.”

— from the song War by Edwin Starr

There is a slightly frightening tendency to glorify war and battle. It’s a big part of fantasy and science fiction; we’re always waiting for the big battle between good and evil at the end. But what happens when we carry this thinking over into the real world? This us-versus-them mentality, the idea that we are the brave warriors fighting the good fight, is especially attractive if we perceive ourselves as the little Rebellion fighting against the giant evil Empire, or as Peeta and Katniss resisting the malicious Games of the Capital, or as the Alliance of Men and Elves standing against the destructive might of Sauron. Everyone loves the underdog.

That’s fine in fiction. I have nothing against battles in stories and frankly I enjoy them. Halo would be pretty boring without the Flood or the Covenant to fight. It’s when this mentality leaks into real life interactions that it concerns me. If you look at the language being passed around the internet these days, especially when it comes to politics, you’ll find buzzwords like “war,” “soldier,” “fight,” and “rebellion.” Even as the world becomes a safer place overall, the language has become far more violent and polarized. You’re either with us or against us; there is no in between.
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2015: The Year in Review

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Okay, seriously, who keeps making off with all this time?  Feels like the year just got started and we’re already on the cusp of 2016!  (And from what I’ve heard, this sense of time distortion only gets worse… ugh.)

I am definitely in a better place at the end of 2015 than I was last year.  Many of my 2014 goals have been reached, and it feels like I’ve got a better handle on life in general, which is a massive relief!  I want to give a huge thank-you to all of my friends, readers, subscribers, and followers.  You make this all worth-while.

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Updates On The Fly

Greetings all!

My apologies, but the Audio Editions of The Cat’s Cradle, including #ThrowbackThursday, must be put on hold for a while.  I’ve (finally) started taking anti-depressants, and a pernicious side effect is not being able to read text, any kind of text, for more than a half hour without getting a nasty headache.  (Sometimes I can’t even manage five minutes.  So far painkillers don’t touch it.)  And even though I am ecstatic about the arrival of spring, the changing season wreaks havoc on my sinuses.  I tend to be out of commission for a week or two, trying to keep my head from exploding.

As a result, I must be very careful with my time, and finishing Ravens and Roses is more important to me than anything else.  So, it may be a while before I write another substantial blog entry or record an Audio Edition.  Depending on whether or not this side effect diminishes, I may not do another month of LeNoWriCha for a while either.

The upside is, having a limited amount of time to write has really focused my attention.  A scene that has been eluding me for over a year has finally been written!  (I knew what needed to happen, I just… hadn’t bothered to actually write out the scene.)  Less really can be more.  I am more motivated to do things, so I feel like life is starting the long, slow slog towards improvement.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.  Stay awesome, read often, and keep writing!

Losing Faith

How do you restore faith once it’s been lost?

I don’t know about you, but I’m a writer who is full of self-doubt that only gets worse the older I get.  Rather cynical for a girl of 24, but there it is.

I’ve known for almost two decades that I was going to be a writer.  I’ve always known that I would have to be in a creative or artistic field; my brain isn’t suited for business or anything that deals with a lot of people.  (Oddly enough, I can handle being a librarian, mostly because I love books so much.  But that’s about the only “normal” job I can hold and not go crazy or totally mess up.)  Writing is really my only talent.  I know this.  And yet, I still have doubts about becoming a successful writer.

When I was younger, I really didn’t have plan about how I was going to become a published author…but I didn’t feel I needed one.  I knew what I could do, what I wanted to do, and all I had to do was do it.  I didn’t have any doubts about my eventual success.  And yet, now I believe that it’s highly unlikely that I will ever achieve publication of any kind.  I don’t even know if I’m capable of finishing anything anymore.  For at least six months, that thought has paralyzed me.  My depression was in full swing and only getting worse.  I’d managed to stem the tide with anime, but that wasn’t enough anymore.  I was losing my writing, my faith in writing, and I didn’t know how to stop it.

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Handling Dry Spells

Every writer goes through dry spells.  Some people call this phenomenon “writer’s block,” but I think writer’s block and dry spells are two different things.  Writer’s block is when you are working on a story and keep hitting a brick wall.  You have a scene you need to write, or an assignment to finish and you just sit and stare blankly at the screen.  You want to write, but the words just don’t come.

In contrast, I think of a dry spell as a time when your very creativity dries up.  It’s not that you don’t know what to write or how to write it, but rather you don’t even feel like writing.

Personally, I find dry spells far more terrifying than writer’s block.

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