Switch Off!

phone-1426694Here is a scenario:

A close friend or acquaintance calls to tell you of a happenstance occurrence that has changed daily life for him or her. You drop everything to give that person your full attention, as any good friend would. In the end, maybe you have some advice, caution, and or encouragement to offer. And that is really all that you can do.

And here is another:

A friend of a friend calls you with news that the latter had an accident or medical emergency. That person wanted you to know, just in case, and has handled the situation. Maybe there is nothing you can do in the moment, but at least you know what has happened.

And then:

You receive another text message from a chum letting you know what’s going on in his or her day. Since you cannot always get together, it is a good way to stay in touch. When the beep / tweet / or special ring tone goes off, you immediately pick up the phone to text back.

One of these is not a reason to interrupt your writing time…

Certainly we want to stay connected as needed; “want” isn’t the same as “need.” How much connectivity is really productive at all times? What is a legitimate reason to disrupt hard-won time to write?

In part, you must judge this for yourself; but information addiction may cloud your perspective.  Certainly there are lots of variables not stated for these scenarios, but this is not just about your phone.

Social System Pages / Apps

So much now flows through these that you will never (ever) catch all of it. It could take two, four, or twelve screens just to scan for anything that is really important. Taking the time to backtrack takes a lot of time these days; some of it was worth missing, as anything that is truly important would have warranted a phone call.

Even having that page or app running while you are writing—or even thinking about what your will write—is another distraction. It registers in your subconscious or unconscious. You are always thinking about it in some way, as long as you can casually alt-tab or thumb your way to that account.

Shut that browser or app down while you are writing, for writing time is not the time for multi-tasking.

Video/Audio Chat

Is it really necessary to mention such? Engaging someone else in this way usually requires pre-arrangements.

Some may need such for a day job; most will not. Video/audio chat is too often used by the lazy who cannot be bothered to pick up the phone in the moment (truly) urgent need… or who cannot write a coherent email, when the need is not imminent.

Shut that app(lication) done when it is not needed by others. You do not need it during your writing time.

Phone (Voice or Text)

This is the tricky one; certainly you want to be available in an emergency, especially where children are concerned. Perhaps someone of the older generation also needs your support. There are a number of truly important variations. Typically you will not be alerted via instant message, so at least that chirp/chime/tone can be turned off during writing time. Yes, there are exceptions, but…

Ask yourself honestly if there is someone else in your life who can be the primary contact for certain times on certain days. If such a person is available, then maybe an arrangement can be made. That same person can contact you as necessary for an urgent need.

No one should tell you to cut yourself off where the safety of loved ones is concerned. Be mindful that there are other people in your life who can fill that role for a while, even on a regular schedule. If not, well, that can happen to some, but look closer at the way you live. In many cases, you are not as along as you think.

Extra Time / Brain Space

We are bombard with an insidious amount of information (to use the term loosely). Even news programs/channels pump what amounts to drivel 24 hours a day into online video / audio / text sites and feeds. Everything and everyone is trying to get a piece of your time—your awareness, your brain space—any way that they can. And yes, that resource can be put to better use.

The average writer of today has another form of employment, other personal pursuits, as well as what is needed or required for a full life. You have to managed all of that to get any writing done, but you also need to be aware of something else: it is not just about finding “time.”

Everything you deal with requires brain space and thereby impacts your creativity and creative process. Your own mind is the primary asset and resource that has to be managed first and foremost. Anything else that takes up even unconscious awareness steals mental resources from writing. When there is time to write—often hard won at that—learn to cut off the static that is not real information (needed or not in real time). 99.9% of you have something that is cutting into your awareness and focus, and thereby your creativity that you need to fix.

Then think about it some more. You probably made at least one form of addict’s justification for not pushing aside something that isn’t needed for your writing.

Learn how, when, and where to switch off! 

—J.C.

N.D. Author Services [NDAS]

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