The Off-the-Grid Payoff

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Staying at my parents’ house, which is now my house, led to quite the writing epiphany.

You see, I’m too cheap to pay for an Internet connection (and lots of other stuff that may not be apropos to this discussion) while I was there. So I was forced to make a few changes.

I checked my email on my phone, once in the morning and once in the evening, because I didn’t want to eat up my data. I kept to necessary business only (like writing, friends, and family). And found out that I have about two minutes of necessary business every day. What the heck?

I skipped all my social media because, as I may have mentioned, I was pinching pennies. And found out that any important news with friends and family and sometimes, even writing, ended up coming to me in a text. Yeah, apparently, I don’t really need social media.

And finally, even with all the cleaning and work I had to do at the house, I still found a couple of hours almost every day to write. A couple of hours! Daily!

Flash forward to back-at-home—with my always-available and magical Internet—and bam! The epiphany smacked me upside the head. Namely, that I waste an awful lot of time on the interwebs. I mean, it truly is awful the hours I can piddle away on cruising around social media, reading funny emails, and looking up stuff just because I can. (How old is Jane Fonda? Where is that Bigfoot museum in Georgia? What are those little green people in Guam called?) And all that writing time I found the month before? Gone with the wind-ernet.

If I’m being honest, I had an inkling that I wasted a lot of time out there on the Internet. Being off the grid for a couple of weeks just proved it in a pretty resounding way. But an epiphany—even one that smacks you upside the head—is only as good as the will to make changes.

So to keep from wasting time in my inbox, I still check my email on my phone, twice a day, to see if there’s any business I need to deal with immediately. Later in the day, I dump all those other emails, zip-zip-zip! Okay, I might read one funny email, but seriously, an exercise that I might’ve spent more than hour on has become a ten-minute routine.

As for social media, and I’m mostly talking about Facebook here, I’ve struggled a wee bit. It appears that I’m incapable of policing myself once I jump into those social waters. I have to have some kind of social life, after all, and as a writer I have an innate and highly developed sense of curiosity.

So, yeah. The best I’ve been able to do is limit the times I check in, which for now, is twice a day. Limiting the time I spend there is my goal; I don’t always achieve it, but hey. It’s a work-in-progress.

Speaking of which, my latest WIP is coming along nicely. I’m finding more and more time to work on writing as I spend less and less time on the Internet. And I challenge you to try going off-the-grid this summer, if only for a week or two. You might be stunned at how much you accomplish when you walk away from wi-fi!

(P.S. Jane’s 79. Seventy-nine! How is that possible? The Bigfoot museum is in Gilmer County and the next time I’m near Blue Ridge, you know I’m going there. And the little elves in Guam are called duende. You do not want to mess with them.)

Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer. She's weaning herself off the Internet but that doesn't mean you won't find her words, popping up here and there. You may even find her hanging out with Bigfoot (which looks a lot like her doxie, Libby).


Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Great post/reminder, Cathy!

If I'm not careful, I find myself just hopping over to check my email or to check this or to check that. I don't NEED to, I just end up doing it. Sigh.

One thing I started doing is if I pick up my phone, I have to do more than one thing on it - check my email AND my check my To Do list, etc. It limits the amount of times I pick it up and spend on it. Supposedly.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Well, that's a good tip, Madeline--if you keep your To-Do List on the phone. :-) Mine's old school, on a scrap of paper. I'm constantly looking for it because now I carry it around with me. I get more done, when I find it. :-)

I still cannot get over how much time I waste piddling on the Internet...I can't watch a program for five minutes before I have to Google something.

Just because I can. *sigh*

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

As usual, you're right about everything. :) I went off the grid for a couple months because of our big move, and I'm so glad I did. It has been hard getting back online, to be honest. Unlike you, I CAN stay off Facebook and would prefer to be, but social media is important to me as a writer, so I'm out there. But I don't really wanna be. I'd rather be writing than scrolling.

And wind-ernet. Brilliant. I wish I'd thought of that one!

Diane Martin said...

I was totally with you until your last comment, and then I had to Google duendes in Guam...which then led to an idea for my MG fantasy novel...which then led to more Googling this and that. All your fault! :-)

Unknown said...

ugh I can totally relate to all that Cathy, and I haven't had the head-whacking epiphany!!! So I thank you for the encouragement, and the honesty about how hard it still is post-epiphany. Hope to unplug with you soon!

Suzanne Pitner said...

Oh my. And here I was feeling guilty because I've been off the grid for the entire summer! It started when we went to Germany and I ran over my data limit in one day. One stinkin' day! It's amazing how much time we can free up by backing off the social media a bit. One thing I did to finish a book this year was take my computer to a place with no wi-fi and write for an hour a day. It was great! I'm glad you had this epiphany, Cathy. It makes me feel so much better about how I've been staying away lately. :-)

Linda O'Connell said...

We have a shared data family plan. When we get the alert, I always fear I am the one using the data, but thankfully it is one of our grand kids. Once I click on FB, I am there for way too long. It is a time sucker.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Lisa, I salute you! (But I do so love the stuff you post on Facebook! :-))

And Diane, I feel you should know that I, too, am working on a MG novel. And I feel sure that either Bigfoot or the duendes will show up in it. Or maybe both will show up. Wouldn't that be a kick? :-)

Melissa! Yes, hoping to unplug with you, too!

And Suzanne, glad to help. And what's this about a book? Tell me more!

But if you weren't on FB, I'd miss that ridiculously cute grandson on yours, Linda. :-)

Donna Volkenannt said...

I try to limit my time on social media because once I start, I get lost and lose track of time.

Pat Wahler said...

I like to find out what people are doing, but social media is a huge time suck. However, I don't feel like I can stop because according to every oracle on earth, using it develops author platform. I feel sort of stuck. :-(


Charlotte Dixon said...

Oh, I can relate to that social media conundrum! I take time away once or twice a year. It's not enough, and I know I'm weak ;) Enjoyed my visit with you today, Cathy :)

Mary Horner said...

Social media is difficult to manage so I have to be diligent and keep track of time, which I am not good at! Some days are definitely better than others!

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