What springs to mind when I say the phrase ‘reading deprivation’?
Nope, it’s not a cult based in Berkshire. It’s not some bizarre form of torture. It is a big boost to creativity, clarity and focus.
And it’s exactly what I’ve been doing this week.
Why? Because sometimes the best thing we can do for our ideas, is to block out the noise, stop planning, and get-on-with-it.
Here’s what I’ve learnt from turning down the volume for a few days.
Media embargo, some context
A week off television, the news, reading the Sunday papers, your favourite books... For seven days, no Twitter, no LinkedIn, no browsing newsletters or blogs, aaaaaaand no radio.
That’s been my week. There is method in the madness!
I’ve been doing a programme called ‘The Artist’s Way’ by a woman named Julia Cameron. It’s a self-guided course to boosting creativity. It takes the form of a book and there are different exercises to follow over a 12-week period. I’m on week 4.
In short, I thought I’d make the most of lockdown. And what creative doesn’t want to indulge themselves, let’s be honest? Yes, you may call me an ‘artist’, dahling.
A reduction in word-calories: the impact
Sunday evening, I took a step back from digital life, the printed word, and media in general. Monday and Tuesday, I was grumpy. I couldn’t focus on anything. My head was in a fog, the yawns kept rolling towards my laptop like waves on a breakwater.
Don’t get me wrong, by 8pm on Tuesday, I’d achieved a lot:
Cleared out a drawer full of rubbish
Sorted clothes I no longer wear into a charity bag
Organised a pressie and card for a friend’s birthday
Arranged a catch up with old friends
Finally got round to sorting out a faulty lamp with the retailer…
…I’m aware that it’s not exactly a what’s what of rip-roaring debauchery.
Luckily, the sudden retreat into the desert of my own head was about to strike gold.
The payoff begins
8 o’clock, Tuesday night. 48hrs after I started my reading diet, two tiny days with no ‘stuff’, and – as my grandmother would have said – the spirit moved.
I’d tidied, I’d dusted, I’d cleared out rubbish… sitting in my favourite armchair, I drummed my fingers. What can I do? I could make a start on the wardrobe. Two hours till bed… hmmm. What shall I—
The idea whizzed into my brain: start your new writing project, Laura!
Yes. The idea of drumming my fingers for two hours held considerably less appeal. So, I whipped out a wodge of notecards, lit me some candles, and started scribbling.
Easy as that.
I couldn’t believe it.
The bliss of no distractions
We’ve all said at some point that we need to be free of distractions to get on, to focus. Now I had no excuse. Liberated from the habitual patterns of consumption, I was able to crack on. I couldn’t quite believe that a mere 48 hours after cutting out the noise, I was seeing an impact.
And it made me wonder. What comes first: the distraction, or the excuse? How often do we put off doing what we need to do because of X or Y, or this ‘must’ do, or ‘must read’? Are those things even a distraction? Or do we make them a distraction, because at least then we’re not making excuses for avoiding what we really must do?
I can only speak for myself. You’ll have to ponder that one for yourself and see what rings true for you.
Hand on heart, I was genuinely surprised at how quickly all of the rubbish, the blockers and the rubble had been swept away. I’m kind of astounded at the space that has become available in a short timeframe.
The tangibles of no distractions
The idea that had been kicking around crystallised enough to become:
Clear in my mind and vision
Ready to be acted on!
It’s a short note this week. Perhaps it’s because all the usual media I’d consume isn’t there to clog up space. Or perhaps it’s that my mind is working much more efficiently – the exercise has done what it’s supposed to do.
So. What detritus can you clear out, take a break from, or put to bed for good?
Imagine what might emerge….
Your words matter,
The Weekly Writing Reflection
Each week I share an inspirational quote and a writing prompt. The idea is for you to spend a moment doing some active reflection through writing.
It’s a mountain theme this week. No reason, other than I like mountains! And you can’t beat being up a mountain for ditching the phone signal and getting away from the outside world.
“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
- John Muir
And your writing prompt (if you’d like to use it):
When I...my spirit…
Enjoy your ramble in the mountains, possums.
What’s caught my eye this week
Each and every week I’ll share a few snippets of inspiration, thought-provocation and jubilation. Hand-curated delights, selected by yours truly to stimulate your mind and soothe your soul.
I’ve no suggested reading this week, as I haven’t done any! Here’s what’s been making my mind buzz instead…
Goal-setting masterclass – Last Friday, I attended a short, sweet goal-setting masterclass with Louise McMilan. Louise makes setting and – more importantly – achieving goals a breeze. She’s holding another session later this month, check it out.
Music for concentration – When I’m writing and need something more than silence or background noise, foreign-language music is my go-to. No distracting English lyrics to take away from what I’m writing, brilliant. It’s the one kind of media I’ve allowed myself to consume this week! I recently discovered a great Brazilian artist named Seu Jorge. Check him out, well worth it, even if only for the David Bowie and Damien Rice covers. Yep, Damien Rice in Portuguese. It works, weirdly.
That's it for this week…
If you enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to share the love and pass it onto a friend. And if you decide to do your own reading deprivation, good luck! I look forward to hearing all about it… and to taking in the masterpiece that emerges.