How Peaceful the Disconnected Life Can Be

My studio was originally Internet-free; now it is intentionally so.

Earlier this week, the Internet connection to my studio went down and I was reminded how peaceful the disconnected life can be.

I had no Internet when I first moved into my Chapel of the Imagination, as I call my one-room studio tucked into a wooded corner of our land. At first, I was stunned by the intense quiet; I wrote with concentration and focus.

It was only when I returned to the house to use the printer or send email that I fell into those black holes of distraction: Facebook, news, solitaire.

As my blogging output increased, I had to return to the house and connect more frequently for fact checking, uploading photos and formatting posts. Reluctantly, I wired the studio to the Internet, which saved me the walk to the house, but where I often succumbed to the time suck of cyber distraction. Even when I was on-line to research a subject, I found myself spinning into information that was as off-topic as it was interesting – and hardly better than going deep into Facebook.

So when my connection went down, I was amazed how quickly my focus returned, and how sharp my mind without all the cyber static that has crept into my workspace.

About the same time, I started reflecting on my day with Evening Pages, rediscovering the joys of writing by hand.

The combination of turning off the static and physically shaping my words on the page has been profound. I’m recapturing the sustained quiet where my imagination is most audible and my ability to capture my ideas into words most profound.

In order to protect this renewed quiet, I’m turning off my email and silencing my phone in the studio. By disconnecting to the interruptions and distractions of the Internet, I’m concentrating on the words and stories at hand.

What are your distractions and how do you tame them?

walking & writing

At the end of the Long Trail, 9/8/2016.

Note to my Readers: I wrote Lessons from the Long Trail after hiking from Massachusetts to Canada along the spine of Vermont’s Green Mountains in 2016. This summer I’ll be hiking from Alaska into the Yukon along the Chilkoot Trail. While I’m gone, I’ll be republishing some favorite posts both here and at Living in Place. I hope you’ll check them both out. I’ll look forward to reading and responding to your comments when I return. All best.

23 thoughts on “How Peaceful the Disconnected Life Can Be

  1. Oh my goodness, a cabin in a wooded area without any Internet access is my idea of Heaven! 😍 I know that Internet access is sometimes important for my writing work, but when I have it all the time, my productivity soon takes a nosedive.

    • Yup. Please see Jamie’s comment above, about an app that can shut you out of distractions. Maybe I’ll write a post about that after some research and testing . . .

  2. My biggest distraction is my young child. I’m pretty sure he can’t be tamed. Lol. But I have work arounds. Friends help. Babysitters. A hubs who supports my writing.
    I only find a few hours a week to write. By their very rarity those hours are madly productive. All the scenes have been percolating, some times for days.

    • I remember being incredibly productive during those very hectic years. And I’m very much enjoying the freedom of having self-supporting adult children who are also supportive of my work as I am of theirs.

  3. Facebook is one of my biggest distractions. Sometimes, I’d like to just delete my account and purge the whole network from my life, but then I know I’d miss all the connections I have there … so, I don’t. To help shore up my will power (which is deeply lacking when it comes to using Facebook as a way to avoid my work), I installed the Freedom app, which allows me to lock myself out of any website (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for a set period of time. It’s really helpful, and works well when combined with the Pomodori approach to work “sprints.” 🙂

    • I know that temptation to just evaporate from social media – and also how important the connections I’ve made there are. Thanks for the shout out for Freedom. I’m looking into the apps available to help against distraction and will put that one on my list.

  4. Love this, my aim is to go to work and switch my phone off or not look at it. Being involved in our world and away from social media or our phones is great at times! My biggest distraction is my phone where I check my emails, check Facebook, Instagram before I’ve even had breakfast!

    • I just read a study that says turning off your phone is not quite good enough; it must also be out of sight. It works for me with potato chips, so I’m going to give it a try with my phone.

  5. So many truths here! I used to live without electricity – wrote by kerosene lamps, by hand. Now I’m ‘modern’ and sometimes the distraction of social media and the internet becomes like a huge weight sitting on me, so that I eventually give up on writing and walk away. It’s almost like depression. I see the value in purposely disconnecting. I’m working on thinking of social media as a ‘reward’ after writing, not something I start with when I open the laptop. And I’m working on walking away from my distractions – guilt over dog hair in the hallway and dust and firewood to stack and…

  6. Interesting. I am also a fan of writing by hand, and yes the I net can be quite a distraction. I am not a professional writer, I only do a blog, but still looking for information, I find sometimes I go in search and end up somewhere completely different from where I started! I wish you all the best for your tour and to hear all the news about your adventures when you return 🙂

  7. Thank you sincerely. I too much prefer writing by hand. I find all the internet, emails etc etc are major distractions when peace and concentration are your goals. When I was young it was always the telephone. Because I not only write but pray I must, I simply must, separate myself from ALL the other ‘stuff’. I have the disciplined delight of writing a blog (only twice a week if inspiration flows). Websites I always write on are not ‘on a deadline’ so I can do when is most convenient. I admire and respect your choices and the beautiful place you chose to ‘concentrate’. May indeed you be able to return there uninterrupted by the ‘outside’ clamour……….. the destroyer of ‘inside’ creativity.

  8. What you’re doing is so important for creativity. I left Facebook a long time ago (although I dabble with Instagram periodically) and am so much the better for it. Our society has become locked into this fear of “not knowing”. That fear distracts and busies the mind, which needs downtime for creativity and reflection. Good on you for creating a place that you can work without distraction.

  9. To tune out distractions, I have to give myself time blocks. I set aside 20 minutes to write (which usually leads to 30 minutes) and a specific task that has to be done (making the bed). Otherwise, Pinterest is where I fall flat down and succumb to every rabbit hole!

  10. I used to do morning pages and always felt more grounded when that was part of my morning routine. Thank you for inspiring me to start again! My current biggest distraction is my phone; I check it when I don’t have to, just to have something to do. I started using the Moment app, which tracks the amount of time I spend on my phone, and that has helped decrease my phone usage a bit.

  11. This was such a wonderful read! As part of the younger generation, I often feel a strong pull towards social media and my cellphone – there’s often a fear that if I do not connect with others throughout the day, I’ll miss out on important things going on in my friend group. I’d like to try doing the internet disconnect someday though. One question – how do you avoid getting bored in your settings?

  12. I favor writing by hand over the computer. There is just something about putting pen (or pencil) to a fresh piece of paper and letting your mind guide your hand. Turning off the technology is a must in my book. Otherwise, I fear I’ll miss out on all that the day, nature, raw life, has to offer.
    Enjoy your trek! What a fantastic journey.

  13. Wonderful, wonderful post. I’m learning and trying to find my own way through this writing world. I’m new. I’ve been forced to make a choice due to a disability so I’m an engineer turned writer and not very good at it. I do love it though.

    I leave for our lake house every Thursday. I stress because there is no internet, hell it doesn’t have running water. Every Monday I return refreshed and full of ideas. Sometimes too many to cram into time at home at this desk. Disconnecting is truly soul cleansing for me.

    Thank you again for this post…following. Happily following!

    ~Kevin

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