Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cutting the Cord

Do you feel jittery if you’re away from your cell phone or computer more than an hour? Get withdrawal symptoms if you haven’t checked your email recently? Find yourself longing to get back to work when out with friends? If so, you need a vacation.

I approached our recent ten day cruise with trepidation. How would I exist without the computer? Could I go without checking my email for even one day? What would I do with all that leisure time? I’d get bored out of my mind during four days at sea. Oh yes, I had books and newsletters on my iPad and Kindle to bring along, but how long can you sit and read without getting antsy?

If you share these concerns, believe me, they will evaporate once you’re out on the high seas, ski slopes, beach, or wherever you choose to go. Out of sight is out of mind. As soon as we set sail, I powered down my iPhone and locked it in the cabin safe. No more email, until I signed on to the ship’s WiFi for quick checks later during the week. I found enough to do that I didn’t miss my inbox.

I had to make myself go online to use up the minutes I’d purchased. Even reading newsletters became too much like homework. I stuck to the fiction I’d loaded onto my Kindle and vegged out on a lounge chair to read, or otherwise I spent my time chatting with other guests, eating, walking around the decks, eating, climbing stairs to wear off the calories, sipping cocktails, eating, watching a couple of movies, and—wait for it—relaxing.

Is the “R” word not in your vocabulary? Then you definitely need to take a break. Just make sure your vacation is sufficiently long to give you time to unwind, play for a few days, and then prepare to reenter reality. And who knows, inspiration might hit along the way.

I got inspired by one lady on a prior cruise. Based on her elegant appearance, I created the countess in Killer Knots, my cruise ship mystery. This time was no exception. When my husband and I both saw this woman, the word “witch” came to mind. Likely she’ll end up in one of my paranormal romances. But even better, the cruise ship captain was a woman. Change her to a spaceship captain and we’re off and running with another story. So give your brain a rest and take a trip away from home. You’ll come back relaxed, refreshed, and inspired.

If you’re the type who loves to hang out and avoid work entirely, this article isn’t for you. You’re the one who needs a kick in the pants to sit down and write. But that’s another topic.

When you find  yourself (if you do) glued to your electronics, how do you break away?

And since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful for friends and family and things that enrich our lives that don’t depend upon electricity. Including you, dear readers. Thank YOU for visiting our blog throughout the year!

12 comments:

  1. Disconnecting from tech isn't too hard for me, mainly because I'm mostly not modernized to all the technology.

    I recently did upgrade to a newer cell phone that you can text on (my old cell was probably 12 or more years old--the T Mobile guy hadn't actually seen one that old). But I only used 6 plan minutes last month. I have to talk to people on the phone all day long at work, so the phone is the last device on the planet I want to see outside of work.

    Kindle only gets my attention for short periods of time and my only email access is through my home computer--which I can spend a bit too much time on when I should be writing.

    Email will always be the hardest thing to give up for a time, no matter how the technology changes.

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  2. I'm into NaNoWriMo right now, and "unplugging" is essential (ironic, isn't it, that I'm writing this comment?)

    I took advantage of the free offer to use RescueTime. It has a function called "Get Focused." You choose the time you want and it prevents you from accessing activities you have deemed unproductive. It also gives you stats on your productive and nonproductive time each day.

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  3. BK, I have gradually been modernized, and now I love my iPhone and iPad. It's so quick and easy to check my phone for mail when I'm out and about, or to take my Kindle on a cruise instead of a pile of books, or to read newsletters on the iPad. It all depends on what use one has for these devices. They're defined by their functionality for us.

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  4. That's a cool site, James. It sounds very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    My rule for when I am writing is to finish my page quota for the day before I'm allowed to play on the Internet. Those pages come first. Ditto for self-editing. I have a certain quota to fulfill. and it has to get done

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  5. My wife and I have gone to several all-inclusives in the past 3 years. Call it a mixed blessing, but wifi is prohibitively expensive. But there is always someone at the swim-up bar that has an iPhone or iPad that is connected. Me? I don't pay the extra. Our biggest concern each day was whether to lay by the pool or on the beach, or what restaurant to eat in, or which fabulous mixed drink to try that day.

    Since I have a rather stressful day job, it makes it hard for me to put my electronics aside, but after 1/2 day at the beach, a new reality sets in.

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  6. Oh, and in September, I read Hostage Zero by our friend John Gilstrap while in Cabo. Great read.

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  7. Wilfred, I know what you mean about a new reality settling in. It's hard to think about work or home when you're lying on a tropical beach or by the pool in an exotic location. Do you recommend any of the all-inclusive resorts?

    One thing I have to add is how heartening it was on our cruise to see so many passengers reading. Print or ebook, a majority of guests had a book in hand.

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  8. Breaking away from electronics has been something I've been trying to do with my iPhone, by eliminating it as a default for when I don't know what to do, even though I have homework and two instruments in the house.

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  9. You've inspired me. My cell will be off tomorrow. (I'm scared.)

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  10. Chihuahua, I know what you meant. The computer is my default when I don't know what to do. I can always do a promotional activity to keep myself busy. Jordan, good luck keeping your cell off, even if tomorrow's a holiday.

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  11. Thanks for the plug, Wilfred!

    I confess to being addicted to my smart phone. I don't know if it's a need to keep in touch, or the fear of facing hundreds of emails upon my return from vacation. Either way, I get twitchy when we're separated for too long.

    John Gilstrap
    www.johngilstrap.com

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  12. John, that's one big reason why I consistently check email when I'm away. I can eliminate the junk that would ordinarily clog my inbox. And I can answer important messages that need a personal reply. Usually I go no mail on my listserves before I leave so those aren't a bother, but it still takes me about a week to catch up after I get home.

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