Reversing My Creative Decay

A few weeks ago I blogged about finding more time in my day for writing. To do so, I’d employed meditation, walking, and, especially, yoga. I’d also begun setting my phone out of reach. The result was I almost doubled my time available for writing. In the interim, there’ve been some new revelations.

Photo: CA Hawthorne

First of all, a few numbers for those enamored of them. In the three weeks since that blog post I’ve finished the edit on Pneuma Key and its novella sequel. Too, my average number of hours/day increased another hour (over eight, but then I’m not working).

Numbers don’t mean all that much to me. I could write a hundred novels with lots of words, but have worthless output (to use icky business terms).

My primary focus today, though, relates most to staying away from my smart phone.

To start, my bad phone habits probably weren’t as bad as some of you reading this. I eliminated Facebook five years ago. I’ve kept the number of apps on it to a relative minimum. There are no games on my phone. All of that means moderate notifications. I also keep it on silent.

It didn’t matter.

When it was on my desk I’d check notifications again and again and again. The final straw, in fact, was checking it, setting it down, and lifting it again without releasing my grip. My shock was complete. I was also disgusted.

That was just the beginning. No one checked the weather as much as I did, even on days I didn’t leave the apartment. Of course, once I unlocked the phone there were all those little notification numbers and other apps tempting my curiosity. If there wasn’t, I’d journey into the world of news.

If you suffer from anxiety and depression, checking the news on a regular basis doesn’t do anything good for your mood.

Okay, as bad as all of that is, it isn’t the worst of it.

The worst was that the phone, over the course of the six years I’ve had a smart phone, had become a crutch for thought avoidance. I’m not talking about how it makes it easy to bring up information (yes, a positive aspect to its function as a tool). I’m talking about how, over time, when faced with even a slightly difficult writing issue—I’d turn to my phone to avoid it.

Key word: avoid.

Avoidance is the opposite of solving.

I’m a creative. I write fantasy fiction. My phone isn’t going to explain to me what happens when someone is attacked with the Pneumass Scepter.

My phone was stealing, one piece at a time, my creativity. Realizing it was happening came with realizing I was letting it happen.

That wasn’t going to do. Not. At. All.

So, back to my revelations, which you’re probably beginning to guess. If so, you’re right.

• Better focus.
• More creative thought.
• A more vibrant imagination.
• Increased reasoning skills.

The first hint that things were going to change was when I’d reach for the phone that wasn’t there. Recoiling, I focus on the issue at hand instead. It was actually difficult at first. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’d sit there and stare for several minutes.

Until I didn’t.

Instead, my brain started addressing the problem right away. More recently, there’ve started being fewer problems to address. My last several blog posts? I’ve written them in a fraction of the time it used to take me. Not only that, it’s been far easier to arrive at a topic.

My ability to multitask has increased. At the moment I’m doing laundry and writing this. That isn’t a big deal, but for the last week I’ve been editing while also developing a new novel on the side.

That new novel? Talma Loyal and the Case of the Deadly Stroll

One week ago, Talma didn’t exist. I was finishing Pneuma Key when inspiration struck during the last few chapters. From there, it exploded. I flew back through the novel and enhanced scenes that were the thread leading to her (she remains a minor character in that novel). On the 27th I started logging notes about her possible story.

Pannulus. ©2020 CA Hawthorne

It’s been creative insanity. I’ve loved it. I now am nearing 10K notes on her character, other characters, the city of Duskspell, backstory, and the plot for her novel.

Part of my excitement is that I’ve been waiting several years for the right heroine in Pannulus to write a fantasy noir around. If there was such a thing as being literally blown out of my chair by an idea, this would have been it. 

She. Was. Perfect.

She was also, as far as I’m concerned, only possible as a result of the changes I’ve made. I’ve devoted 1-2 hours/day to those notes and I can’t type fast enough. My ideas are pouring out. Issues fall by the wayside in no time. I find myself working out problems from unique perspectives and wonder where such ideas are coming from.

They’re coming from a brain that’s remembered how to create.

If you have any of the symptoms I’ve described, or any that are similar, you might think about making some kind of change. Keep in mind, if there’s an emergency someone can call me and I’ll hear the phone buzz. Otherwise, they can wait.

Remember when smart phones were supposed to provide us more control over our lives?

There’s my control!


About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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