Technology Addiction: Five Steps to Unplug from the Digital World and Get Back to Writing

cut out technology and get back to writingAre you addicted? Did it start long ago with your “Crackberry?” You remember, people were running around with a “Blackberry” glued to their face. It was email — 24/7.

We had no idea what was coming.

Now it’s the smartphone — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email. Everything demands our attention. And, it’s not just our mobile device. You sit typing away at the laptop or desktop and you’re looking for that opportunity to check your email or look at updates on Facebook.

How do you know if you are addicted?

  1. You Google everything. What was the price of gas in 1979? Hang on, I’ll get you the answer.  Eighty-six cents per gallon or thirty-four cents per liter in Canada.
  2. You check your email more than once an hour.
  3. You send the entire household on a search for your phone when can’t find it. Of course, you left it in the bathroom … next to the toilet.
  4. You start to shake when your charge is down to single digits.
  5. You set everything to push notifications with an alert chime for each source.

Is this really good for you? Of course not. Your phone or technology can interfere with your creativity. As writers, that’s a big deal. It’s a huge time waster … as a writer, that’s also a big deal. It can destroy our focus.

Like anything, moderation is the key. So, how do you break the addiction? Change how you treat technology. Here are a few tips to help you change how you view your phone.

  1. Check your email just once an hour. If you have to, put a timer on. Take control of your day rather than reacting to every email alert on your smartphone. In fact, turn off your alerts.
  2. Hide your phone. Seriously, put it away when you sit down to write. Turn off your wireless input on your computer when you write. Disconnect from the Internet. Actually, it’s very rewarding.
  3. No phones at dinner! One of my biggest pet peeves. People who can’t get off their phone when enjoying the company of fellow human beings — it drives me crazy.
  4. Start your day without looking at your phone. Get up, go outside, brush your teeth … do anything before you look at your phone.
  5. Get outside and take a walk, without your phone. I know … you want to stream music while you exercise. Try streaming the great outdoors. There’s tons of wonderful music coming from the birds and other elements of nature. Let your mind rejuvenate. Clear your head so you can go back to your writing with increased effectiveness.

The best streaming device is your own subconscious mind. Unplug from artificial consciousness and allow your mind to work. Get rid of your phone for a specific period each day. You’ll find yourself more productive, more creative and feeling a lot better if you do.

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

17 thoughts on “Technology Addiction: Five Steps to Unplug from the Digital World and Get Back to Writing”

  1. I definitely pass the addiction-positive test! I’m trying to wean myself and have unsubscribed from several sites that promote ad nauseum. I’m drowning in thousands of emails that I’ll never get to read and have been purging, sometimes recklessly, but then, I wouldn’t have gotten to those messages in good time, so what’s the difference. Yes, the push notifications are maddening, and I planned to cancel it today because the push pushed too far last night when the alerts went off a couple of times and destroyed my sleep. Thanks for the reminders!

  2. My best technology break is fly fishing in a mountain canyon near my home where there is no cell reception. I have carried my phone to take pictures that I will post later on social media, but that is changing because of the GoPro camera my wife gave me that I will use to shoot video on my expeditions. Best part … because I write about fly fishing, this is research and my expenses are a business deduction.

    1. That should be interesting, seeing your adventures through the GoPro! You’ve got the right idea about breaking free.

  3. It’s difficult for sure. I know authors are encouraged to have accounts on all social media outlets, but I just can’t do it. I left Facebook because I was spending too much time there. I know it could be a valuable way to market my books but I just don’t want an account! Then there’s instagram, pinterest, Google + and more. I do twitter and that’s it.

    Thanks for the post and the excellent tips.

    1. There’s more than one way to skin a cat! The key is, put out quality work and the rest will take care of itself.

      Thanks for your thoughts,

  4. The social media beast is difficult to tame, especially if we’re in various writers’ groups where we’re expected to support one another on a daily basis. These commitments are an integral part of being an indie author. It takes hours every day to keep up, and those are hours we’re not writing.

    To date, I haven’t found a better way to manage my online time, short of “dropping out.” And I never look at my cell phone…

    1. You are right, Linda. To do what we need to do, it could take hours. It comes with the territory when we decide to go indie. We’ve got to figure out how to make it more efficient and effective.

  5. For someone who doesn’t even have a smartphone, I’m ridiculously plugged in. I try to go out and “stream nature” whenever I can. It helps a lot, and a good long walk counts as writing time. Thanks, Jim!

    1. Wow! I’m impressed. No smartphone? You’re the one, lol. You’re in a great place to stream nature too!

      1. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a smartphone! I don’t want one. I have an ancient cell phone to use in emergencies when I’m out, but other than that I don’t want to be connected if I’m away from my computer. I write my first drafts by hand and do my final editing on hard copy so there’s no risk of distraction then either. I blog mostly about walking and travel so post lots of pictures – but they are all uploaded after the event from my camera. Even with all this I sometimes feel as if I spend too much time in front of a screen (having a virtual job doesn’t help) so the last thing I want is to become tied to a phone 24-7. There is a life to be lived beyond the rectangle!

  6. Ugh… now I know I’m old. I had no idea anyone lived like that, much less writers. I’m far from a luddite, but I’ve never seen the fascination with mobile devices. -sigh- That probably means I’m fast becoming a luddite. Or very very old. 🙁

    1. Oh stop, I’m sure doing EXACTLY what you’re supposed to be doing at this stage of the game. Live in the now and know that you are on the right path.

  7. I was brought up with nothing in the way of electronic media. We had a battery powered radio, which we listened to for an hour or so in the evening when the reception was clear.
    Worst result; I can’t sit in a room with the TV on without my eye being drawn to it. I’m sure people think it’s rude.
    Best result; I only use the rest of that stuff when I need it. It enriches my life.
    Do I look things up on Wiki? Darned right. Now my friends and I discuss the ideals and ideas around Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus, instead of listening to the I’m-right-all-the-time idiots argue about whether it was in 1955 or 1956.

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