Five lessons I learned from my media-fast

by Rebecca A. Watson on September 21, 2011

in change, habits, the artist's way

Reading deprivation is over. You’d think after a week, I’d have dove right back into reading and my media. But even my Rolling Stone has gone largely untouched after a few days back in the reading world.

Yes, I’ve Tweeted a bit and read a few blogs, but my email program is about the same as it was before and I’m really not feeling Facebook at all. And I went to bed last night with a desire to write, not read.

Why haven’t things gone back to “normal?” I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think these five lessons kinda sum it up for me:

1. The world is full of beautiful things just waiting to be appreciated first hand. I kind of already knew this, but sometimes I would let others experience it for me and then I’d just read about it. Take the Harvest Moon,  for example. I love the moon, and regardless of whether I was doing this exercise, I probably would’ve went outside to take a peak at it. Then I would’ve read about it and looked at other people’s pictures of it the next day.

harvest moon

(Courtesy of Vince Wingate via flickr)

Instead, I went outside to a great big field and sat there and stared at it, right around dusk. I sat there for probably 15 minutes, chatting with the moon, my intuition and the flowers, grasses and little bugs that came by to say hi.

It was special. And it only took a few minutes. There’s so much I hear from others that I want to see more of first-hand. Dolphins are at the top of the list. And it’s all out there waiting for me.

2. I have a lot more energy than I thought.  After a morning of jittery weirdness, I decided to skip the coffee. And I was fine. More than fine. My energy levels were off the chart throughout this whole exercise.

I would go to bed with words rattling around in my head, even though I had written more in a day than I used to in a week. Where were all the words coming from? Where was all this energy coming from?

I liken it to a computer without enough RAM. When we have so many things we’re trying to pay attention to in a day (Facebook, email, Twitter, blogs, family, grocery lists, work, news, etc.) our brains and our bodies have to slow down, much like a computer does when it’s faced with too many tasks to do at once.

Busy people

(Courtesy of leonwpp via flickr)

When that happens, you can either buy more RAM  or you can slow down and do less at once. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to buy RAM for my brain. Installing more in my computer is stressful enough. So I choose to slow down and use my RAM for what’s most important to me. And I’ll take the extra energy as a benefit.

3. Choose the images and thoughts you expose yourself to carefully. At the end of my week, I was really excited to watch The Daily Show, which if you watched my vlog, you know why. But after watching it and laughing a bit, I realized how sad it was that thousands of people were losing their jobs and that this was somehow a joke.

I’ve noticed the same thing about the music I listen to and the blogs I read. Either I’ve become more sensitive to that stuff in a week, or I was just desensitized to it. I’m going with the latter and limiting my intake. Just like certain foods can fill your body with toxins, so can certain media.

4. I’m  a lot more creative than I thought. Once I stopped reading other people’s creations, I started to crave creation. Even when I was in the cleaning closet anger phase, I would stumble across something beautiful and use it to decorate the house. After awhile, I started thinking about all the projects I’d like to sew.

sewing at the dining room table

(Courtesy of pinprick via flickr)

Sew? I’m a writer, not a seamstress. Or so I thought. Turns out there are a lot of creative things I’d like to do, and with my mind quiet, they finally came to the surface.

5. Nike has it right: Just do it. Seriously.  There is no reason to research, talk about, or think about that project you want to do any more. If your heart desires to write a novel, Nanowrimo is just around the corner. If you want to learn to crochet, take a class. I’m looking for a sewing machine. Who would have thought?

Quit thinking about it and just do it. It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s OK to not know what you’re doing right away. Experts aren’t born, they’re created.

Ignorance is bliss and I believe it. I can’t go back to how things were because of the lessons I learned from this exercise, which actually gets me pretty excited. What inner-creations are going to come to fruition from this? What long lost dreams will come to light?

What about you? Can you relate? Have you had any experiences with media (or other things) where your perspective shifted so dramatically your life underwent a permanent change? How did you handle it?

Interested in The Artist’s Way? You can read more about my experiences with the book or check out Julia Cameron’s website for more info.


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