I’ve been trying to write a blog post since Saturday.
One is halfway finished, the other, nearly done. Both need a little more love & attention to become fully-formed posts, but life changes so fast that many of the ideas in one are no longer applicable. I have a list of posts here in my March Scrivener file, just haven’t had the time to finish them!
Things have been trés busy here in the closet studio. Saturday marked my first in-person event since moving to Phoenix (it went fabulously; I’ll post about it tomorrow). This week has been spent working on a series of work for a magazine article that was, well, a transformative process that I can’t wait to share with you. Seriously! I was in the studio until 1:30am working on things, and tomorrow, I’ll be back in there painting up a storm!
But last week was spent offline.
Like many of you, I love going online. Even past my secret fangirl side, I love catching up with people on Facebook, reading anecdotes on Twitter, and browsing blogs and photo sites for inspiration. Art cannot exist in a vacuum, and in this technological age, the internet has replaced a trip to the museum or local cafe when it comes to expanding your horizons.
For someone who earns her living largely via the ‘net, it can be a bit overwhelming. In order to get my message out there and find my audience, I need to stay on top of not only social media, but my blog and videos for YouTube. There’s information coming in at me from all over the place, and I find myself working at a near-frantic pace trying to keep up.
But last week, it came to a head. I simply could not take another minute. Every time I signed on, my stomach would get upset, my head would pound, and my heart would start to race. There was just too much and I was spending more time frustrated and angry on the computer than actually creating any art.
So I took the drastic measure of cutting myself off from the computer/internet for an entire week.
I allowed myself to stay in contact via my phone, but it takes forever to load things (when compared to my blazing-fast internet on the computer) and doesn’t display some things properly; I’d check in a few times a day, but rarely replied to emails or comments on my status. Instead of sitting on my laptop while watching TV, I’d simply watch TV.
You’d think this would lead to uber-production of artsy stuff, but that didn’t happen, not at first. I tore apart my studio and began weeding out old supplies I’d never use and organizing everything (it lasted a few days; it’s a mess again!). Everything was spread out across the floor in tiny piles that made sense to no one but me. I watched a lot of movies. I simply allowed myself to relax & breathe.
I felt my stress melting away.
Without the pressures of the internet on my shoulders, I could relax. Even if I wasn’t doing anything productive, I was still happy.
But then the magic started to happen.
I headed off to a spontaneous dinner with my mother. Went on an adventure that ended up with a little gift for someone and some glittery pens for me. Did a demo and met so many new people. Cleaning out my studio opened my space — both physical and mental — made room for a new wave of creativity that’s still spilling out.
I found that, by making more room in my life by saying NO to checking Facebook all the time, wandering blogs, and reading tweets, the more that time was filled with genuine experiences rather than the experience of reading about others’ lives. I suddenly had things worthy of putting in a status update, but found I’d rather remain engaged in such activities than pull out my phone to update social media.
In creating a vacuum in my daily life, I was forced to start engaging the world rather than watch it pass by outside my window.
My “break” ended on Tuesday, but I’ve found the habits from my time offline have spilled over. I don’t like spending as much time online since I now know all I can accomplish when I shut my laptop or turn off my wireless card. I used to think I went online to distract me when I get the most fatigued, but there’s so much more I can do even when very, very tired (I’ll be writing about my new coping techniques very soon, at Cassandra’s request!).
Now, the only stress on my shoulders is my over-full inbox, but being able to focus better — and answer things while not connected — means it should be cleared out faster. I’m no longer struggling to tread water; I’ve grown stronger through taking a simple, little break.