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.
- 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.
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.