Many of you were asking me how my week long “reboot” experiment went. In short, it was wonderful. Hard and a bit scary at times? Definitely. Worth it? Absolutely. This coincided with the first week of The Shed Project, which was perfect timing. I regretted not being able to dive right into the forums and post, but it was more beneficial to me to be starting the project during a week where I was mostly detached from technology. I was writing a lot during that week, so I’m going to share a little breakdown for you with bits of my stream-of-consciousness writing from each day.
When I got to work on the first day, my very first step was to go into my Google Reader and click “Mark All As Read.” It was such a simple thing, but I actually found my heart rate speeding up and my hand shaking a little bit! Why was this such a big deal? Instead of running away from my emotions about it, I wanted to really dwell in them and observe what was happening. Since my moratorium was on reading and not on writing, I immediately grabbed my journal and started writing it down:
I can’t believe that actually made me feel nervous. What do I think is going to happen if I miss out on some blog posts? Will the world stop turning if I’m not observing it? Will I be out of the loop, no longer one of the “cool internet kids” ? Why do I care? I don’t think I consciously realized before how important it has become for me to feel like I know what’s going on everywhere. Now it’s just me and my immediate surroundings. News from beyond my little circle will be delayed in getting to me. I wonder how it will feel to be back in “analog” … where important things reach me by word of mouth.
Day 1 felt shaky all around, and sort of like I was wandering in a haze. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. When I found myself accidentally reading a blog entry someone linked, I had to close out the browser quickly (and it WAS accidentally — I did it out of habit, without even thinking.) That made me step back and consider how often I am taking in information unconsciously, just reading whatever is in front of me, clicking whatever friends share, mindlessly absorbing it all. No wonder, as my friend John said in the comments, my “inputs were clogging up the outputs” !
That night I cooked a pretty good dinner, ate face to face with my partner-in-crime, and started working on a project around the house a little bit. It was so quiet. And nice, actually. I went to bed early, leaving the stack of books on my nightstand untouched.
More after the jump!
Day 2 was a little bit easier, because I was starting from a great night’s sleep with my goals in mind. I went straight for my morning pages to write down my dreams and to get some stuff I was processing out of my system. I wrote much faster than I typically have. Later in the day I wrote:
It’s amazing how much noise I’m surrounded by all day without knowing it. I drove to work without listening to my usual morning show and noticed how peaceful the drive can be. Traffic didn’t bother me as much. I’ve listened to some music on my iPhone but no podcasts, no talk. It’s been a really long time since I just listened to music. I realize the irony in that since I’m supposed to be a musician. I’ve also kept Twitter closed on my desktop, and just opened it once or twice to check stuff for work and say hi to people. I didn’t read Facebook. So far, the world seems to be holding it together without me. haha.
I was still fighting a desire to check on my regular blogs, but took a walk around the parking lot whenever that impulse struck. That afternoon I got a really good workout in and cleaned around the house a bit more. Then, I actually played my guitar for a few minutes… for fun. This is not a small accomplishment, since it’s been basically “work” for the last year. My mind was racing around a bit, but not unpleasantly, just jumping quickly from thought to thought.
Day 3 is where things started to get really interesting. I had no desire to check on blogs or podcasts or read. None. I was happy taking it slow in the morning, going about my work, walking around outside, and talking to people face-to-face. I taught a workshop for our users at work twice and it went really well. I also didn’t write anything on Day 3. Overall, it felt like the day moved at a slower pace.
Day 4 was much like Day 3, but with one major difference. I wrote every chance I could get. I did my morning pages, but also some “afternoon pages”, and some “evening pages”. It was mostly processing and journal writing rather than work on any songs or drafts, but it was spilling out from somewhere.
Day 5 was fun. It was Friday, I had a show, and I felt free & clear. I completed my monthly music newsletter, wrote a blog entry, and used Twitter a bit… it was easier because I didn’t have the impulse to click on every link. I felt a lot more “awake” and energized than I had in a long time and felt really good about the show. I was able to enjoy talking to my friends who came and enjoy playing even though it was humid outside. I felt buzzed on the way home. I was also able to go through a few boxes in the garage.
Day 6 was when Hurricane Juliana hit. I woke up, went to a couple of appointments, and came home with a mission. There Was Work To Be Done. For some reason I decided that it was time to tackle all of the boxes in the garage. I went through 12 of them single-handed before G. came out to help and brought out the stereo. We actually ended up having a lot of fun dancing around and throwing stuff out. We were able to take a look at some things that we’d kept for no reason and decide to let them go. We packed up my car full of items for charity and threw out a lot more. It was like the sudden attacks of “nesting” that some pregnant women go through.
It felt great, but I paid for it a little while later. That evening, all the dust we kicked up gave me one hell of an allergy attack and I had to take it easy.
Day 7: I made it through a whole week! I was glad this was a Sunday because I was still feeling awful in the morning. My head ached and I had chills, and my nose and throat were sore. I wasn’t sure if it was just allergies or if I’d actually come down with something. I had to cancel a show for the first time in at least five years and felt terrible about it, but just after I did it I knew it was the right choice. I would not have performed well at all. My body needed the rest… it was almost as though my body wanted the same treatment I was allowing my mind, so I took it easy, had a bath and some soup.
So, did I write more during my week of “rebooting”? No, not right away. But, in the two weeks since then I have written two songs in quick succession, gotten a lot more pre-production work done for my album, and written several things that will be going into the longer memoir piece I’m working on. I do believe that taking a week off from constant input allowed me to integrate the things I’d been observing, and to get back in touch with my own voice instead of the voices all around me. It was the kind of break I needed to step back and observe more closely, to ruminate and take long walks… which are often what lead me to new writing.