I live for the last four months of the year. The transition to cooler weather does something magical, making me feel more in tune with my body and mind. Due to all the extra sparkly connectivity, I’m usually at my most creative during the autumn and early winter season.
As I’ve been planning my schedule to harvest this creative flow, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Most recently, I’ve been reading The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World. I’m not very far in, but so far the book raises great questions about the intersection of technology and the all-illusive question of what being human means.
Naturally, this makes me wonder about technology and creativity. Specially, my cell phone.
I am a proud middle-of-the-pack millennial. This means I was the last of my kind to grow up outside, spinning away the summer days with my neighborhood bike gang. Signed up for Facebook in high school only so I could keep up with some international friends. I was late to the Apple game with my first smart phone last semester of college, though all my younger siblings already had one. (I really liked my purple Razor, guys. It was purple.)
Which meant, I didn’t get into the habit of checking my phone apps constantly until after I grabbed that diploma and said I do.
Being smack dab in the middle of millennials gives me a unique perspective on my cell phone. I appreciate not having to lug around a GPS. I like being able to search for anything, anytime, anywhere. I love having a one-stop-shop for all my needs. But I also remember the hours I spent in a creative workflow, uninterrupted by notifications. (I put those on silent over 10 years ago and have not looked back. But I still have the compulsion to look, like, every twenty minutes.)
While my cell phone has definitely helped me be more creative – story notes into Evernote, song snippets into Voice Memos, Inspiration on the go via Pinterest, books to devour into GoodReads – my cell phone has also stopped me from being creative.
In a moment of boredom, I’m far more likely to reach over twelve inches and pick up my phone than walk into my art loft to create something new. I’m far more likely to check on another author’s progress than sit and do my own work. I’m far more likely to check my latest Instagram feed then figure out the plot problem I’m currently wrestling with.
My cell phone has become the easy way out. It’s the compulsion—to look, to check, to always be at my side that’s killing me. I can feel myself turn from consumer to the consumed.
I’m still trying to figure out the balance. How do I be present to my own writing, to my own creative work when I live in a world that values an online presence and instant communication? What’s the balance? How do I manage?
I’ve tried media fasts. Tried turning off my cell for the weekend. Tried deleting apps for a seasons. All of this has helped for a time. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated afterwards. But a temporary break is not a long-term solution. Especially since publishing is an ebb and flow of give and take and movement and stillness.
I don’t have any answers. I only have questions. But here’s my question for you: have you noticed your cell phone impacting your creativity? And what have you done to manage it? Because really, I’d love to know.
Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if.She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.
Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at http://www.abbyjreed.com.