Many years ago I participated in a 12-week creativity workshop based on the book, The Artist’s Way; a sort of 12-step program for artists. The course was intended to help people reconnect with their inner creativity and remove blocks, both external and internal, to creative expression.
Each week brought a new assignment, making us dig deep and work to overcome self-doubt, self-consciousness, negative thinking, excuses and other barriers to our goals. One of the toughest challenges for everyone in the group was the dreaded Media Deprivation week. For seven days we were to avoid all media of any sort—no television, radio, recorded music, newspapers, books, magazines, Internet, personal email, social media, etc.
The purpose was to stop external influences from filling up our brains and wasting our time; therefore, forcing us to get reacquainted with ourselves and to, “Gasp!” perhaps have an original thought or two. Let me tell you, it was tough. You don’t realize how ingrained media is in your life until you try to eliminate it.
Every time I got into my car, my hand would automatically reach for the radio control without any conscious thought about doing it at all. It took most of that week to re-train myself and I found those long, silent rides to be unsettling. It made me ask myself why I needed that noise.
The evenings were the hardest. Accustomed to watching television or reading, I suddenly found myself with several extra hours a day. It is easy to complain that you don’t have time for your art. Cutting out unproductive media showed me that I did have time; it was just a matter of priorities.
Over the past few years I made the transition from a full-time employee in a corporate office environment, to a part-time, self-employed writer and photographer. Recently, I noticed that now I rarely turn the radio on when I’m driving. Instead, my mind is filled with projects, plans and story ideas, or just observing what is going on around me. I find that I no longer need, nor want, the distraction.
It’s not that I’ve given up media; I still watch evening television, read voraciously and scan Facebook. But, now I am taking time to listen to the creative voice inside, instead of drowning it out. I actually like being inside my head and present in the moment.
Could you survive a week of media deprivation? What would you do with that extra time? Try it, and find out.
Photo credit: Tamara Muldoon