Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Going Amish.

I did it!  Managed to stay off Facebook, away from news sites, TV and even the radio for five days.  Here’s a snapshot of my week.

Day 1:
Today is the first day of my one week self-imposed media fast and all I can say is what the hell was I thinking? I forgot about NPR! I usually have NPR on while working at my desk, but I realized that even listening to NPR is distracting. Why couldn’t I have planned this during a NPR pledge week? My usual habit of getting up, grabbing my computer and reading mail, then reading Facebook, then reading Daily Mail, Huff Post, Salon, NY Times, etc. had to be abruptly stopped, so instead I got up, fixed Dylan breakfast and then peeled peaches. 7:30 and the house is quiet. Going to figure out how to work Final Draft again, and start the screenplay.  At least I can start with Fade in….

Just wrote 7 pages and it’s not even noon!  Walked dog.  Was so tempted to get on Facebook and see what the rest of the world is doing, but am going to go to Milos and see the real world. 

Managed to complete 10 pages of the new screenplay on Monday. Was grouchy by the evening because I couldn’t watch TV. Read a couple of magazines instead.

Day 2:
Got off to a slow start writing-wise. I managed to get an article and a query letter written between some batch cooking for us and friends.

5:37p.m. Twenty minutes before book group and all I wanted to do is check my Facebook page. It’s not an issue of how much time it could take away from writing, there’s no more writing getting done today. I’m realizing how much this has become a habit, I feel like a smoker really needing a smoke.  I’m so glad I’m going out with friends tonight. I do miss NPR, but a lot of the other media, not so much. 

Day 3:
12 years ago today I became obsessed with the news in a way that I (formally a journalism major) had never been before. The terrorist attacks on America left all of us feeling angry, scared and vulnerable and for me, part of dealing with feeling vulnerable, was having as much information as possible. After all these years checking the news at least twice a day has become more habit than necessary for survival.  

It’s interesting the conversations that crop up when talking about not being on Facebook. Some people hate it. They want to talk to their friends for real, or find the constant barrage of updates overwhelming, and/or often uninteresting. I get that. But as one of my friends pointed out, she has so many friends that have recently moved far away and it’s the only way she can feel in touch with them. I like to check it out because I’m home alone so much. It’s like stepping into a virtual coffee shop, a chance to see what’s going on with others and the world. Some of the people I read about, I don’t really know. We met once at a class, or used to hang out 30 years ago. Or I get information from businesses I “liked” at one time, it can feel like more online noise.

Everyone has a bad Facebook user story. The person who picks a fight and keeps on going.  The person who posts pictures of every meal they eat, and the person who has a million posts a day. I guess I’m not missing much on Facebook, but it’s still hard to not check it out…

On the work front, I wrote out 15 cards for my screenplay today and went to my writing group, so I felt pretty productive.

Day 4:
It’s Thursday night. I’m tired and there’s nothing more I want to do than to sit down and read some news. I really HATE watching the news (I find the news on TV superficial—30 seconds for a complicated nuanced story—and the 24 hour CNN news cycle borders on idiotic when there is nothing new to report.)  I read my news, or listen to NPR. My problem is that reading news stories, like potato chips, are hard to stop at one.

Writing didn’t go as well today. Mostly because I’m having some big plot issues and I always try to figure out plot before anything else. Otherwise I could end up writing some vignettes or something that has nothing to do with a story. At least I know what my problems are, I just not sure how to fix them.

Day 5:
Just saw this article on Soul Pancake that is especially relevant.  It’s about getting rid of the stuff that doesn’t work and how to make space for the stuff that does.

It did work! I was much more productive subtracting media from my day, and so I think I need to try to limit myself to surfing the web, research and Facebook to after 5:00 p.m. I did miss out hearing about the floods in Colorado. Huge damages, much pain and so distracting, especially for the people who are actually affected by the floods. But for me in relatively dry Portland, there’s nothing I can do to help. I’m not affected, and I could let the images and stories distract me. Taking control of my time is going to be a deliberate and difficult process, but the feeling of actually getting some writing done really does outweigh the distractions.


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