Attempting to unplug… (SO much harder than it sounded)

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It has come to my attention (and probably should have a long time ago) that I am way too dependent on my computer. Seriously, when my computer breaks down, so do I. Recently, I decided I’d like to change this, so I’ve committed to having one day a week be computer free. To make things fun, at the beginning of the week I literally roll a die to see which day it’s going to be.

I figured this way I could prove to myself that I can still be a functional and productive writer sans technology. So I gathered notebooks and post-its and highlighters and… well, to be honest I failed miserably the first time. It was a lot harder than I expected.

I tried to hash out some chronology issues in the trilogy, but quickly got stuck when I couldn’t open the actual document for reference. So then I tried writing one of the extra scenes I needed longhand, which went well, but took forever for me to actually get into a groove with it.

The second time was better. I planned ahead with more technology-free activities, but when I hit snags with them it was nearly impossible to recover. (aka – I’m supposed to write this additional scene longhand. But wait… did he tell them that crucial bit of backstory in the previous scene? I can’t turn on the computer to look it up. Therefore the world is over.)

Although I somehow feel like I’m cheating by planning my activities in advance. When the computer has a temper tantrum, I don’t have time to print off the things I want to edit or make notes on where I left off in a story.

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I’m going to keep gnawing at this, because I think it’ll ultimately be really good for me to unplug once a week, but I could really use some suggestions. What kinds of things do you do when technology is unavailable? What are some writer-ly activities that don’t require actually sitting down and writing? And (for those of you who find writing longhand helpful) how do you do it without getting stressed?

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7 responses »

  1. What if you cut yourself some slack and allowed turning your computer on only long enough to find an answer to whatever you got stuck on when hand writing your scene, then immediately turned the computer off again, so you’re not tempted to keep using it? It seems like it would be less frustrating and you’d be able to continue making progress. I used to hand write my stories way back when. The ease of computer editing made me give it up. When I can’t use the computer, like when the power’s out, I read, draw maps and location sketches related to my stories, and plot out future scenes. I hope you can figure out how to make your technology-free day to work!

    • Hehe… you give me credit for a *lot* more will power than I actually have 😛 But maybe I could do that if I also disable the internet. Facebook tends to be the enemy of my morning writing sessions.

      I like the notion of drawing maps, though! It’s actually been a while since I did that for any of my stories, but I remember it being helpful.

  2. I usually write the notes, outline and character information in a notebook so I can always have them on hand. It’s also easier to add and change ideas. I will print anything I start directly on the computer. That way, not only do I have a backup, but I can edit when I am not at the computer. I don’t find longhand stressful at all.

    • Oooo… You know, printing everything as you write is really smart. I normally wait until I’m nearing a final draft to print it. (“Nooo it’s so sloppy! I shouldn’t waste the ink!!!) But nothing NOTHING compares with the pain of your computer crashing and losing a story you’ve written, so I may indeed start doing that 🙂

      • I have the biggest fear of losing my files so I always print as I go. I even save the files in Dropbox in case my computer crashes.

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