Daily Prompt: Sometimes, we all need a break from these little glowing boxes. How do you know when it’s time to unplug? What do you do to make it happen?
I know it is time to unplug when writing seems like a chore. When it seems forced. When it is the last thing I really want to do.
Writing is something I went back to after many years because I had so much to say, to release. And because it was something I missed terribly. A part of myself I was denying.
The sheer volume of writing I have done over the past few months since I created this blog has freed something in my soul. This writing is something that is mine, that comes from me, that takes the shape of my thoughts and paints pictures on the page for others to see. There is something gratifying and rewarding in that kind of creative expression.
I enjoy writing in the mornings, when the house has just fallen quiet, after the breakfast rush. I clean up the dishes, then sit down at my laptop on the kitchen table. It is right beside the back door and a window, and I generally pull up the blind so I can look out at the grass and our little willow tree, the vines now turning purple and red, the sun – or rain – falling across the garden. My little bit of nature in the downtown core.
I also find I am hit with inspiration at about bedtime. As I look to the sky, or out across our neighbourhood, I am inspired by the altered state of nature, by how entirely different and yet equally magical everything looks at night.
Light and dark; sun and moon; night and day. Like mirror images, they are identical and yet opposite.
And so I often sit down to write at night, too – again, after the dinner and bedtime rush.
Sometimes I have an idea of what I’d like to write. I may have notes I have jotted down throughout the day, or the night before, or I may be bursting with a partially-formed post that simply begs to be written. At other times, I need some inspiration from other writers, from something in the news or from the Daily Prompt.
There are days, however, that sitting in front of this little glowing screen seems the last thing I would like to do. Days that the ideas don’t come, that I feel I have nothing to say.
And what do I do then?
I try not to force it. I know that if the thoughts or the lines aren’t coming, I can’t make them. I’ve tried and it just doesn’t work.
This morning was one of those mornings. I felt I had nothing to say and couldn’t face sitting in front of the screen. I was also all-too aware that outside it was a lovely, sunny day and I didn’t want to be stuck inside. Nor did I want to be a slave to technology.
So, I put on my jacket, put my trusty iPhone-cum-notebook in my pocket, tucked my book under my arm, and set out on a walk.
Almost immediately, and rather predictably, the lines began to flow. I find that happens as soon as I attempt to unplug.
I tried to ignore them as I walked down tree-lined paths, along the water’s edge, enjoying the scent of fallen leaves and pine needles.
But I am only able to ignore the lines piling up in my mind for a short while. Out came the phone, briefly, as I captured my thoughts.
Then I was on my way again. I walked on for a while, finally turning up into a little shop-lined neighbourhood to peruse, to chat with people, and to buy some food for dinner. I talked to a woman and her bounding, silky-haired dog. I discussed teas with the women at the tea shop. I sat for half an hour in the sun with a golden-flecked tea latte, reading my book.
The absence of screens was just what I needed today.
But now, here I sit at the screen. Writing.
Because I do it for me. There was a time not too long ago that I could not unplug. It was part of my job to be plugged in at all times. My BlackBerry was my lifeline and whether I was at the office, plugged into the computer, or away from my desk, I remained connected in some way.
My BlackBerry was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I looked at before I turned off the light at night. This incessant on-the-edge connection to technology and to people from work was expected. Unending. And certainly not something that fed my soul or gave me anything in return. Not even overtime pay.
But writing, being connected now, is all for me.
I am also writing this afternoon because I don’t like too many non-writing days to go by. I wrote nothing this past weekend, at least, nothing publicly available, and for all my claims otherwise, I do feel the tug of the computer, of WordPress, the lure of writing something that people will read.
And also, because I have notes, notes from last night and notes from this morning’s walk. And notes are always a good place to start.
But I am still aware that there is great value in unplugging, in removing some of the habit from the creative process, in spending time among the tangible items in life – the pages of a book, the leaves that crunch underfoot, the world of real-life people.
If nothing else, it makes returning to the screen that much easier and more pleasant.
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