Monday, May 25, 2015

Writers Need Technology Breaks

The title of this post doesn't mean you should skip reading this post.

Being constantly connected through technology to info feeds and group posts and Facebook friends/family frustrates me. Not too long ago, six years or so, I wasn't frequently checking my smartphone to see if I had new email or a Facebook like or a retweet. Now, I do it at least once or twice an hour without thinking. Maybe more because I haven't quantified my use. Maybe much more. I wonder, as I've read lately, if this prompting by our computers and phones to stay on top of EVERYTHING is fragmenting our ability to concentrate and work in long stretches on ANYTHING. I think it is, in my case.

I've wanted to break this habit of being so available to people and to input. But I haven't had much will or motivation yet. Maybe I'd miss something. Someone might try to reach me or I'd miss an emergency text from my daughter. This feeling plagues me when I accidentally leave my phone at home by mistake. At a minimum, it irks me for a good five to ten minutes. Then I relax and realize the world is still in motion without my device telling me so by its whistles and pings.

I want my NYT.
On occasion, I just give up stalking the world or building my digital platform. Going dark lasts for a few hours, a half day. It's usually enough time to realize, hey, my life is just as good without all that distraction, because at its core, that's what it is to me. If I really want to talk to someone, I call. If I really want to know what is happening in the world, I turn on NPR or read any section of my Sunday NYT. Do I like having access to the world on my phone? The ability to Google questions like: How do you calculate the mean absolute deviation (which I did an hour ago for one child's homework)? Oh sure. My life is easier. But I'd prefer to feel like I wasn't doing research on the fly, and my phone encourages me to fly.

Writer friends of mine fall on a wide spectrum of technology addiction. Some of my friends use way less instant technology than I do, and lo, they write more. Other friends use just one app but use it so well (or obsessively), they don't need to do anything else. Or at least it seems that way.

I dream about going off-grid from technology like a generation of writers used to dream about retreating to a cabin in the woods to write. Does that work? Would I be a better writer if I let go of my BFF Samsung Galaxy Android? Would readers know the difference or are they too glued to their screens to care?

I want a little head space. But I'm the one who's going to have to make it. What works? Suggestions solicited.


  1. I write on paper sometimes to help me break the desire to check my social media, removing the distraction while I write for long stretches at a time uninterrupted. I found your post particularly appropriate for me right now, since I am currently entered into #QueryKombat, a twitter contest, and I have been obsessively checking it over the past few days. Good luck in finding your balance :)

    1. i also write long-hand from time to time. it is a great way to relax into the writing. but my phone needs to be muted, i think, for me to get away from it. twitter is a siren to me. weeoohweeoohweeeoooh


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