On Friday, I decided to unplug for the weekend. I’d been spending way too much time staring at a computer screen (or, when I wasn’t near a computer, at my smartphone), and although I was meeting my work-related commitments it seemed like my days vanished before they really got started.
I gave up most television-watching years ago to give myself time to write. But recently the Internet has easily won the prize for Biggest Time Suck. I’ll tell myself I’m just going to scan the headlines to see what’s in the news . . . and the next thing I know two hours have zipped by and I’m on some obscure Wikipedia page looking up something I never even really wanted to know.
What I really wanted was time. And I decided to use the weekend to claim it. I’d take my computer offline, and I would use my phone only as (gasp!) a phone.
Withdrawal wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. On Saturday morning, I realized that getting out of bed meant I wanted two things: (1) coffee and (2) to check my email. I poured myself a generous mug of coffee while I let the idea sink in that I wasn’t going to check my email that day. Or the next. Uh-uh, forget it. Anything in my Inbox could wait until Monday.
I turned on my computer and took a minute to disconnect it from our home network. Now, I’d have to take extra steps, connecting manually, to check my email or see how my Facebook contest was doing. And then I got to work. I wrote for several hours with good concentration. I sailed past my word count goal for the day. And it was only lunchtime.
I ate lunch with my husband instead of at my desk. I took an hourlong walk. I read. I called my daughter on my phone-that’s-just-a-phone. The day grew longer, but in a good way. I had hours at my disposal–time for thinking, relaxing, reading, writing, idling. It was the kind of Saturday I used to enjoy before freelancing turned every day into a workday.
Sunday was even better. I woke up without that urgent need to check my email. Because my last freelance project had pulled me away from my current novel, I reread everything I’d written so far on Deadtown 5 to re-immerse myself in its story. Doing that can be dangerous in a rough first draft, but it gave me momentum, opening doors to new scenes and making me eager to keep writing–which I did.
During the weekend, I went online only twice. My husband, who’s visually impaired, wanted to buy something on Amazon, so I helped him do that. And I needed a recipe that I’d bookmarked but never printed out. I don’t consider those cheating, because I avoided the time suck of opening multiple windows and tabs and following endless links. Plus it didn’t seem fair to say to my husband, “You have to wait two days because I’m staying off the Internet.” (Even so, it was interesting to note that what should have been a quick five minutes of booting up, finding a product, and buying it turned into 20 minutes of sifting through reviews and comparing similar products.)
On Sunday evening, I was hearing the siren call again: “The weekend’s all but over. You surpassed your writing goals. You can just take a quick peek.” I didn’t. I enjoyed a relaxed evening with my husband.
My Internet break was so successful that I think I’m going to try it every weekend for a while. So if I’m not around on Saturday or Sunday, you’ll know I’m writing. Or reading. Or taking a walk. Or hanging out with my hubby. Or just doing whatever . . . in the honest-to-goodness, actual, real world.