For a week of time, I implemented what I deemed a Digital Detox. I eliminated any computer usage, radio listening, and television watching from my daily routine. Though not digital, I also abstained from reading books as well. It’s time now to report my findings.
In my prediction, I believed that blocking all of the creative input would in turn amp up my creative output. My theory being if I cut off creative activities, I’d be forced to create my own to fill the void.
My week-long experiment did not support my theory.
I underestimated how long I would go through withdraws before turning über productive. I had hoped that once I ran out of things to distract myself, I would turn to the page and write, write and write. By the end of the week, I still had plenty of things to occupy my productivity outside of writing.
Productivity does not eliminate procrastination. Wow, never thought I’d say that.
Several factors led me to this. First, the week of the Experiment an unknown variable was thrown in. My household dealt with the flu. Between taking care of my baby, wife and myself, my days were far from typical. The normal time I have set aside to write was taken up to see us all better. Without that allotted time, I had no way of gauging if my writing would’ve shown a marked difference.
Second, in the attempt to stay offline, I did my best to keep away from the computer. This worked against my for obvious reasons. I do ninety-five percent of my writing on my laptop. Had my withdraw symptoms subsided sooner, there is the possibility that using my laptop would not have posed as great of a temptation.
Lastly, I believe the length of the Experiment was too short. The first two problems stated might have been rectified with a longer period of detox. Another week would have given me a typical, if not healthier, week to navigate, and the withdraw symptoms would’ve been nil. My writing time would’ve been regained, allowing for more samples to compare and contrast with.
Although my findings didn’t support my hypothesis, I still gained some useful insight. The digital world took up way too much of my time. In moderation it’s fine, but until that week, I had no idea how passed moderation I had gone.
I’m not afraid to turn the stereo off in the car. I particularly enjoy the silence during my morning commute.
My internet usage is down. I’ve deleted half of my bookmarked pages after I realized my day did not change by not frequenting them. Actually that’s wrong, it did change. I got more time for other things.
At one time during that week I did manage to get some writing in. I worked an old idea that I’ve had floating in the back of my gray matter for a while. That’s great, but it wasn’t a new idea as I had thought that week would bring.
Amy McLane joined me in my experiment and reported her finding at The Parking Lot Confessional on Monday. She concluded that starving your brain prevents you from creating new ideas, a form of writer’s block if you will. I can see her point. There’s a certain amount of friction that goes on to create a spark. That spark is what we creative types run with in hopes of making a raging bonfire.
I differ only slightly with her findings. She states that “[if] you are not making time to read, …you are starving your brain of the nutrients it needs to create.” Books are definitely a source that sparks a writer’s creativity, but there’s more than books that can inspire us to write. More than the digital world as well.
Given long enough, I believe the new ideas would come. I’ve been inspired to write from music as well as watching a couple interact in a coffee shop. Granted you do limit the amount of fodder to pull from by excluding internet, radio, and books, but true human interaction happens outside of those mediums. What’s a story without believable human interaction?
I don’t plan on going through the Experiment again. I gained what I could from it and will carry on my way. I’ve learned to give my brain time to think on its own as well as not to deprive it from the things it needs to build upon.
Like much of everything else in life, it’s a balancing act.