Open Source Sofware

How To Take a Media Fast and Skyrocket Your Creativity

Writing in Greg's cafe, Mt Carmel, Haifa

Last week, while checking in with my creativity, returning to my Morning Pages, and getting real with myself, I realized I had become a media glutton.

I’d been:

  • Checking my reader more than once per day to see if my favorite blogs (or any blogs) updated
  • Downloading ebooks (free and not-so-free) faster than I could read them
  • Checking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Reader, etc) from my phone even when I was out enjoying the day
  • Reading (books, magazines, e-reader) at the table while eating with my husband
  • Sitting in the sunshine with my phone open, squinting to read the words
  • Taking in way too much without giving myself space to create and get things out

While reading Julia Cameron’s Finding Water, I was reminded of the media fast she recommends in the Artist’s Way. For a whole week, we are encouraged to stop reading the newspaper, turn off the news, let our magazines pile up, and leave those blogs for another day. (Well, I don’t think she mentioned blogs- the book was written in 1992.)

It felt so incredibly right to me, I started my fast immediately.

I realized after the first few days of the fast that I had been distracting myself so completely with media, I was all but deaf to the voice of my muses trying desperately to come through.

The result of the fast came hard and, well, fast. My creativity skyrocketed. As the week progressed, I’ve created pages and pages of a book that’s been on my heart for months. I’ve written morning pages every day. I’m present with my husband when we’re out running errands. And when I sit in the sun? I’m just there, sitting in the sun.

It’s bliss.

How to Take a Media Fast:

  • Stop reading blogs (just for now). This was one of my #1 distractions. With incredible bloggers like Julia of Painted Path, Alia of Inner Bliss, and Leonie of Goddess Guidebook, there is often something delicious to read. Unfortunately, when I spend my time reading instead of creating, my life suffers.
  • Sign out of Facebook & Twitter.Have you noticed all these sites just have you automatically logged in? I never gave that much thought until I went through my bookmarks to sign out. I didn’t even have to type in my password for most of my biggest distractions- I just opened my browser, clicked the button, and I was flooded with my friends’ and followers’ updates.People post amazing links on Facebook and Twitter. I can follow links for hours. But following links and reading amazing articles does not, unfortunately, allow time for me to create my own amazing work.
  • Clear the history in your browser.(If you’re not sure how to do this, Google “how to clear history in ______”, whichever browser you’re using.)This makes it really hard to go to my most-travelled sites. Normally I start typing a website address and the site pops right up, ready to take me there. When I cleared my history, my browser became a clean slate. I’d have to type out the whole address (and realize what I was doing, ahem, not fasting) before I could get somewhere.
  • Cut back on TV, internet movies, online episodes, YouTube, etc. For me, a great movie can also be an artist date, so I have to be really honest with myself before I watch something. Is this a distraction, a little drama to help me escape, or do I believe I’ll be inspired and encouraged by this film? We don’t have a TV, but I realized with this fast how much time I’ve spent watching someone’s great video blog post, looking up some how-to on YouTube, or catching a movie just because.
  • Just for a week, stop reading magazines, newspapers, books, even the back of the cereal box. I actually found myself reading the back of my husband’s cereal box, for lack of anything else to read. I’ve so trained my brain to take information in without establishing better habits of creating and putting things out. When I realized this and gave myself free reign to do something creative, I started drawing again, filling pages of my sketchbook journal that hadn’t been touched in months.
  • Examine your life for other media you’re using as a distraction. Do you spend hours (and money) at the bookstore? How about those emails we’re all signed up for that come in as mini-novels in our inbox? Do you have to read something when you’re sitting quietly? Pay attention. I learned a lot about my distraction habits this week, and I am amazed at how often I need to have something in my hands.
  • Recognize your resistance. There is often a lot of resistance to this practice. When I taught the Artist’s Way, I heard, “Well, I just can’t do that” and “I won’t give up my newspaper” and something like, “that’s absurd.” I won’t argue with you. If you’re not ready, by all means, don’t do it. But if you’re frustrated with what you’re not creating, if you feel there isn’t enough time in the day to do what you want to do, you might give it a try. Try it for three days instead of a week. See what happens.

I’m so encouraged by this fast I am extending it. I’ll slowly re-integrate some things later, but for right now, this is exactly what my creativity needs.

Comments

  1. Oh, Belle! I’m totally inspired by this. I was just (right before coming here and reading this) expressing to a friend my frustration with not painting at all lately…the reality is that I’m spending almost all of my very little free time on this computer!

    I’m going to sit with this and see what feels right.

    Thank you so much for the nudge. I’m breathing deeper having read your words…

    • Julia, thank you so much for sharing this. It’s good to know I’m not alone in going a bit overboard. It’s so easy to realize something needs fixed and then also chastise myself for letting it get to that point. I’ve found such creative freedom and grounding in my time away, and I’m surprisingly more connected to my emotions than I have been in a long time.

      The last time I took a significant media fast was the end of 2003 beginning of 2004- I had my computer in a box in storage, purposefully, for nearly a year. It was another powerfully creative time.I’m working towards a good balance between the two. I’m so interested in hearing what that balance is for you.

      Hugs,
      Belle

  2. Though I’ve tried to ‘unplug’ for a long weekend before (and failed….) I never considered the distraction of all my reading…books, magazines, and snippets I print off and tear out “for later”. I’m intrigued by the larger picture you’ve presented.

    And yet here I am also suggesting a great book I recently had recommended to me called the ‘War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield. It’s a fantastic little book on that wily foe Resistance.

    • Lorinda,

      Excellent book, wow. War of Art definitely changed the way I approached my work.

      It is interesting to me, now that I’ve been tracking it and paying close attention, all the different things I use to distract myself from creating, or even just feeling. When I’m upset, sometimes instead of feeling the emotion and working through it (usually resulting in some action needed) I’ll bury my head in a book, surf the internet, or somehow “take my mind off” what happened. I think there’s still a good time and place for mental downtime, but for me when it’s a distraction or a delay from dealing with the issue, it’s not healthy.

      I’m interested to hear what you do with the fast, if you take one.

      Hugs,
      Belle

  3. first of all… i just came across your page and already feel a complete soul connection with your work. thank you for being so authentic. i am also in desperate need of a media fast yet had no idea that was the case until 2 minutes ago! yes…it is definitely time to close the laptop and open my heart and mind to my own brilliant creative flow…

    thank you so much for this post.
    love.

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