Reflections on a week of Media Deprivation

I first heard about The Artist's Way (TAW) years ago.  I heard that it was a book about rediscovering how to be creative.  I also heard that it talked a lot about God... or 'God bothering' as one friend put it.  TBH, the latter put me off it.  Put me off for years.  Maybe a decade plus.  But at some point I picked it up at a charity shop, I don't even know when.  This summer I found it again, and decided to give it a go.  

The books is structured so that each week has a different theme, a reading, a choice of tasks to do and a weekly check in.  Plus you are meant to keep a daily journal (of sorts) and a weekly artist's date (time alone to nurture your inner artist).  

I know that I like doing these sorts of things with other people.  I find it really motivating and supportive.  I asked a few people, and one friend said that she was up for it.  We had a chat and decided that we'd try doing it by the book (rather than taking our time as the God Bothering friend suggested), and having a weekly check in either chatting about it or if we couldn't chat then we'd send each other video check ins.  

For the first three weeks, I was doing my journalling and exercising, and going on dates and sketching more than I had in years.  It was pretty enjoyable and fun to be expressing myself in this way.  

Then came Week Four: Integrity.  One of the tasks was Reading Deprivation.  No reading for a week.  No books, no googling, no reading articles online.  Nothing. As if that wasn't challenging enough I extended that to a Media Deprivation including social media, tv, podcasts etc.  While I wanted to go all in, I felt like I'd still want to check in email occasionally so I decided to only check my personal email once a day and to I'd reduce the frequency of how often I checked my work email.  So a some what mysterious post went up on on Facebook and Instagram and I disappeared for a week.  

The timing was... interesting.  It included two days of travelling including a long layover at an airport.  And three days when Tristan was away for work, so evenings to myself.  Plus I was ill one day, and then got my period.  

I mainly kept to it.  I read a couple of recipes one day.  I did some research for some travels that we had coming up and couldn't wait a week.  I decided I'd used WhatsApp as a form of direct communication not just a way to idle away time so I used that to organise things with friends.  I felt they were permissible.  

Even given those transgressions, let's just say... no reading and no social media left quite a vacuum.  I often feel like I have a lot of time, but now I had so much time.  And I wasn't really sure what to do with it.  And it was certainly uncomfortable.  At times I felt bored, and other times I felt lonely.  

I was also a quite shocked how often I'd go to check my IG, FB and email and I'd have to catch myself.  I tried different hacks like turning my phone on airplane mode or leaving it far away.  My friend moved the apps to the last page on her phone which I thought was a good idea.

With time I learnt to feel increasingly comfortable with the discomfort, and then I started explore what I could do with my time. Some of the things I did with it, as recorded in my notebook: 

  • rested/slept more
  • did my TAW work (wrote up notes in my note book, did my tasks, my artist date etc)
  • art: sketched out some ideas for a mural including a parakeet and a potential background
  • cut and painted my nails
  • danced around a bit 
  • got a bit bored
  • checked out perfumes and bought one.  First one I've bought since I was in my teens but been looking for years
  • checked out watches and bought one.  First one I've bought since my teens but been looking for years.  
  • took time to reply to my work emails.  To really empathise before writing. 
  • uploaded photos from my Cambodia trip soon after coming back
  • had dinner with friends

Over the week, I realised that I didn't want to just fill my time.  I wanted to allow the space.  And in doing so, I did things I'd do anyway like the TAW work, but I also did things I don't often do like my nails... and some things that hadn't done in years.  And this was just one week of no reading and social media.  

Allowing space also meant I checked in with myself about how I was doing, and what I really felt like doing in that moment.  Sleeping or resting came up more often than I expected.  During this week, I went to bed and to sleep earlier, and that got me thinking about how often I would check social media before going to sleep.  

After the week was over, I was a little hesitant to get back online.  And I was a little horrified how quickly that all came back.  It's been a few weeks, and I actually really miss that vacuum.  I want to take more time offline so that I can allow space for my creativity.  

So who's up for giving it a go?  Or have you done something similar?  How did you find it?  

Posted on October 4, 2017 .