Musings on the Craft of Writing

►Mind Termites

I’m an IT professional for a University… and daily am tempted to become a Luddite.  Why?  The mountain of evidence showing us that the 21st century has created a world filled with addiction to our devices.  That unrelenting use is continuing to damage our attention spans and general ability to calmly ponder complex issues. [I’ll here stop myself from writing an academic piece since hundreds have already done that work for us.  You can Google as well as I can, but I will give you just a few (in case you’re feeling lazy). ]: NPR, NYer, NYT, NW.

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Aside from what is a crime against our minds (and ‘souls’ if I’m feeling bold [and antiquated]), I think it’s especially damaging for the work of creative endeavors.  As I am charting a 7-novel series, I require many hours of uninterrupted musing.  Daydreaming is not just nice, it’s essential.  The power of our brains at work when in a steady, relaxed state is vital to the outpouring of a deep story.  (Again, Google away, but here.)

Our addiction to being perpetually connected to the internet/playing with our gadgets robs us of this deep flow, which means that what artists produce lacks the depth and richness they may otherwise have had.  The useful tools that are our many computing devices have the clear and likely danger of becoming mental termites.

We’re very much in the scenario of the Apprentice (in Fantasia) with his hundreds of animated broom-servants drowning the castle.  It is a type of magic: We can access apprentmountains of specific data with a few seconds of keystrokes and we’re collaborating via these blogs.  Hell, most of us are publishing our books with it.  It’s foolish to turn our backs on it.  But, like all magic, those who can’t control it will be controlled by it.  The tech-toys can easily diminish the quality (and quantity) of our work by clogging the very wellsprings of our creativity.

Have you taken inventory of your tech-time?  How many hours per day you flip through websites, videos, TV shows or, in whatever capacity, staring at a rectangle? [Onion]  Each individual thing may be fine within itself—it may even be beneficial.  But the cumulative effect of the avalanche of information (even useful information) can crush our creative lungs.

VisualizationI encourage you to turn them all off.  Let yourself live like it’s the 80s again (for those of you remember those glory days), and be connected to nothing except your own inner dialogue.   Stop texting, emailing… blogging for long periods of time.  I do most of my real writing work in my basement.  I purposefully purchased a (semi-broken) laptop that has a dead wireless adapter just so I could not get onto my network there.  I kill my cell and only have music which enhances my mental flow. I make myself walk out by a pond or stand in the woods.  I stare at “nothing” in order to let my mind settle, and let myself hear my creative chorus.

Share/opine away.

~Daniel

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2 responses

  1. Great to come across someone on the net with a viewpoint similar to mine. My great fear is that we are destroying the imaginations of our young placing them in front of screens from an early age. It means that they accept someone else’s idea of what Cinderella looked like, for example, and replace their wonderful imaginations with information – which is a poor substitute. Information is a great servant, but a very dangerous master.

    November 18, 2013 at 8:34 pm

  2. Delilah

    Love the connections and above all the correct use of irony!

    November 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm

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