What happens away from the keyboard

My best friend Angie recently came to visit. She’s a go-go-go kind of person, so we had a very busy few days. Art and ice cream in Columbus, hiking and thrifting at Hocking Hills State Park, and long drives and deep conversations woven throughout.

Angie's visit 054

While she was here, I simply didn’t have time to blog. Then, even after Angie left, I found myself enjoying the “silence.” It’s not that I didn’t want to blog, or that I didn’t have anything to say. It’s just that… It felt right to step away for a bit.

(Tweeting, email, and FB were all at a bare minimum too.)

The thing is, I spend most of my waking hours at the computer. And I really don’t mind that. I’m a homebody who is very comfortable entertaining myself by reading, writing, and watching videos of puppies.

But the more I’m plugged in, the more I realize how important it is for me to disconnect too.

Maybe it’s different for other people, but my life is not lived online. My life is processed and preserved online, and that’s important to me. I enjoy doing it. But that’s not living.

For me, living is exploring a new part of town. Taking a chance on a restaurant I just discovered. Walking around a park in the chilled autumn air, and swinging on a playground next to a little girl.

Living is talking with my friends for hours. Not about the weather, or TV, or even politics, but about love, and work, and the things that are driving us crazy, and the things that we still hope to accomplish, and the things that we fear we never will. It’s about discovering ourselves while we get to know someone else deeply. It’s about honesty and vulnerability and connecting.

I’ve been lucky to do a lot of living this year. Vacations, visits from friends, walks with my dog, road trips with my fiancé. And yet — I’m embarrassed to say this — sometimes the thought of being away from the computer stresses me out. I can’t help thinking of all those minutes “stolen” from my writing. I can’t help wanting to stay in my comfort zone.

But it’s only worrisome until I do it. Once I step away, I realize how ridiculous I was being. And how great it feels to be out in the world.

Living is the reason I prioritize family, friends, and travel. Living is what fuels my writing. Living is what I do away from the keyboard, so that I have something worthwhile to bring to the keyboard.

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9 Comments

  1. This post makes me think of NaNo (since it’s the time of year). This is one reason I never even think of doing NaNo — too many other things to do in life (both good and bad, of course). I can’t imagine spending that much time at the keyboard in a month. Writing-wise, I’m pretty much of the slow-and-steady persuasion.

    • Oh yeah, it’s hard NOT to think about NaNo at this time of year if you’re a writer. That’s actually another thing that’s been nice about being AFK: Fewer NaNo reminders to make me feel like I’m slacking. :P

      I’m not knocking NaNo (nor, I imagine, are you). It’s just not the right method for me, that’s all. But when everyone else is doing something, I can’t help feeling like I should be too. It’s hard to go against the tide.

  2. I LOVE this. It’s so easy for anyone to get caught up in the draw of technology, but I think that’s especially true for writers. Drafting, revising, reading blogs, talking with our writers’ groups … it’s like a never-ending blast of screen time. Like you said, though, that makes it even more important to step back sometimes. Going out there in the world is crucial for us as writers, but even more so as people.

    Glad you had a great time with Angie! :)

    • “Going out there in the world is crucial for us as writers, but even more so as people.”

      Precisely! I think part of what makes it hard to remember/do is that everything that makes up that screen time tends to be (for me, anyway) fun. But too much of a good thing is still too much. ;P

  3. I’m definitely not attacking NaNo, and in fact I wrote a whole blog post once defending it: http://u-town.com/collins/?p=1357.

    It’s not for me, but it’s really cool that it exists.

  4. I can appreciate what you’re saying here. I am a bit more old-fashioned and am usually unplugged. It may be a generational thing. But I notice that when I do have a computer or phone with me, I’m not living as much “in the moment” as I am when I have no electronic devices around. Still — I look forward to getting back to routine and my computer so that I can start to process it all, like you.

    • Juliann-
      “I notice that when I do have a computer or phone with me, I’m not living as much ‘in the moment’ as I am when I have no electronic devices around.”

      Ditto. It’s not that hard for me to keep devices put away during dinner, but in “downtime” moments (like waiting in line somewhere, or having “nothing to do” at home) I find myself automatically reaching for my iPad, and I hate that. I at least want it to be a conscious decision, not an instinct. Because I want my instinct to be living in the moment!

      (This applies to capturing things on camera too. But that’s a whole separate post…)

  5. The Angie

    I’m just going to have to visit more often.

  6. I’ve found recently the only way I can get any serious writing done is by disconnecting and actually writing with pen and ink in my journal. Or I have to bring my laptop to a coffee shop without wireless. They are hard to find these days!

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