If you’ve been following my blog, you may have read some of my posts about writing and depression. One of the things I talk about there, is that writing is a solitary activity that is part and parcel to a writer’s ability to focus on what they’re doing. As you know, depression can be caused by too much solitary activity. However, I’ve found that whatever angsty “thing” I just went through, it was caused by the precise opposite to that — too much connectivity.
For me, I need those moments of solitary confinement even when I’m not writing because it allows my head to be clear. For a while there, it seemed like my mind was in a literal fog and I couldn’t figure out why. Worse, I felt that my writing was suffering as well. What was once fun and enjoyable turned into a literal chore. I choked up. I had stage fright. I over-analyzed and psychoanalyzed every verb, every comma, every first word of every, single sentence and I couldn’t figure out why.
So I started to detach during my off time and I turned to my favorite video games instead. Slowly, but surely, I figured out what was happening to me. (Thank you, Square Enix.) I had been so inundated with a constant stream of noise that I felt I had to either read (or respond to) each individual pixel of internet dirt. As a result, I didn’t have the chance to focus on “me” or “my work.” I was too busy focusing on things that were triggering my emotions. Mind you, several things had already pushed me in that “I’m frustrated” direction already. The noise did not help.
Noise, for me, is probably different than it is for you. I have certain topics that send me off into an instantaneous rant, turning me into an ugly troll. With warts. And smelly feet. I have other topics that are like little race cars. When I see them, I feel compelled to stick on the top of their hoods and ride them all the way through to the end. Mind you, none of the subjects I’m talking to you about here have anything to do with work or my writing. And that, truly, was the reason why I needed to disconnect. The constant bombardment of ads, news, factoids, gossip, etc. throughout my day forced me to face myself in the mirror and ask myself what I could ignore. What could I stop worrying about. What did I need to listen to versus what did I feel obligated to listen to.
For the past, few weeks I’ve been going through what I call a “noise detox.” I’ve turned off and tuned out of almost everything, only to embrace the great outdoors and hobbies I’ve abandoned. This experience has been wonderful and exhilarating. It has also opened my eyes to what truly matters to me, and I can tell you that the “noise” does not. (The same goes for drama, in general. Although, I like drama when it’s performed on the stage.)
Instead of giving in to the noise and its destructive tendencies, I am traveling sideways and shielding myself with sunlight and oxygen and my imagination. Otherwise, I can’t hear the music of my words. I don’t know if any of you have experienced something similar, but this has definitely been one of those times where I have learned my lesson well.