Thursday, October 16, 2008

UNPLUGGED

My apologies for being away for the last two weeks and HUGE thank you’s to Mary for holding down the Violet patch all by her lonesome. (What IS introverts equivalent of fort, anyway?) The sad truth is, my back gave up the ghost and simply refused to function. Very hard to meet a deadline that way, let me tell you. Or do any cyber-surfing or blogging or, geez, lots of things.

However, when one is laying flat on ones' back, staring at the ceiling and wondering if an ice pack can actually give a person frostbite, one is apt to have epiphanies—just as one is apt to do anytime one is forced to be still for a little while and listen and observe as opposed to go-go-go and rush-rush-rush.

So my first epiphany was, Wow, I need to think about the plot of my next book A LOT before I finish writing it, so I got a lot of plot pondering done. I don’t know about you guys, but even after writing for over ten years I still have these annoying old tapes playing in my head: You must write every day, and You’re not a writer if you’re not writing, even though I KNOW better. But deadlines make me very aware of productivity, and productivity makes me want to produce. Pages. Words. And lots of them, so I can watch that word count grow and grow.

But since I couldn’t sit for more than about twenty minutes at a time, I was forced to positively wallow in my thoughts, and didn’t that turn out to be a terrific thing? I got so many twists and turns and additional threads figured out that all that “lost” time ended up being hugely productive. And I share this with you because I wonder sometimes, if we don’t actively seek what we as introverts crave--quiet time and lots of it for exploring our inner landscape--out body is forced to do it for us. It was such a perfect excuse to not seek people out, not read on the web, nothing to do but go inward, which I needed to do anyway. Funny how that works out some times, no?

Which segues into my second epiphany: the stillness and quiet to be found in unplugging. From the Internet. Yep, this very one you’re reading this blog on. Don’t get me wrong; the Internet is an introvert’s best friend, absolutely. But there can be too much of a good thing.

The Internet is a wonderful tool for allowing us to keep up with what’s happening in the industry, who’s selling what to whom, and how it is being promoted. We can also read about what our favorite authors are up to, stay tuned in to the writing community at large, and all sorts of good things. But cyber-chatter is still chatter and it does eat up the white space in our head. Sometimes it can be amazingly beneficial to just step away from the keyboard for awhile.

Because there is so very much information out there about publishing, it can leave us feeling breathless with all the things we need to stay current on. At times, it can add a too much of an underlying sense of franticness to the already tenuous business of being a writer. A franticness to finish the book, or find the perfect agent, or the perfect editor, or ANY editor, or what hot trends are getting the big deals.

Unplugging is a great exercise in quieting the mind, stepping away from all of that for a day or two. Or a week. Now I’m not suggesting a permanent break up, but maybe reconsider when and how frequently you plug in. More importantly, are the places on the web where you spend your time really FEEDING you as an introvert? Are they helping your writing? Or are they just the internet equivalent of a cocktail party you've stumbled into, a cyber-room full of voices, hammering at you and nibbling away at your carefully hoarded quiet time?

Just something to think about....

8 comments:

Terry P. said...

Thanks for the reminder, Robin. I totally agree about unplugging and have had the same experience (when injury forces you to stop and do nothing but think). I hope your back feels better soon! As a fellow back-injury-experiencer, I know your pain...
Take care!
Terry

Becky Levine said...

Robin, glad you're back & sorry it had to be a bad thing that sent you into the quiet time.

Trying to find the balance--yes, that's the important part.

Yat-Yee said...

You've convinced me. I'll turn off all apps on my computer except Word today: right after I finish with this comment.

Take care of that back.

liquidambar said...

I really enjoy the communities I've found in cyberspace (like this one, for example!). But I deliberately unplug a few times a year.

Mary Hershey said...

Thanks, Robin, for the important Public Service Announcement. I couldn't agree more. We need to realize that we can drain ourselves even in the privacy of our homes.

The collective chorus of cyber voices can be overwhelming. Good to be mindful that the internet can be used for filling our wells, but it can also suck us dry. Unplugging on occasion is essential.

Mary Hershey

Deb Baker said...

I'm a big believer in quiet space for thought. But recently I was up in the Michigan Upper Peninsula in an area with no cell coverage or internet connections. After a few hours (okay, a whole day) of withdrawal and panic, I settled into acceptance and had a wonderful time listening to my mind.

Robin LaFevers said...

Thanks for the well wishes, guys! And I hope you all enjoyed your unplugged time.

Welcome, Deb! Your retreat into the wilderness sounds heavenly.

writtenwyrdd said...

Great site! Being unplugged from excess stimulation is a wonderful thing. One of the best things I ever did was get rid of my tv. That lasted a couple of years and I wish I'd never gotten another. But now there's satellite, the internet and satellite radio, so even living in rural Maine I find myself overstimulated unless I deliberately unplug.

I'm always glad when I do it. I took the wireless router off line just so I wouldn't goof off on the internet instead of writing, and it's helped a lot.