Switching off

Cheryl Sonnier
Jun 2, 2018 · 3 min read

I had a lightbulb moment recently at work. I realised that by taking my laptop into meetings and typing the minutes straight into a document, I wasn’t in the room. I wasn’t hearing the conversation, just the words; I was acting as a conduit for the words to go from my ears to the keyboard without processing any of what was said.

To test my theory, I took my trusty old notebook and pen to the next meeting I attended. I listened to the conversation and I made notes on paper to summarise and remind myself of the key points and actions.

The result? My notes were more concise and informative and less of a narrative. There was less detail but more nuance. It was a revelation.

Of course, I then began to wonder what writing in pen would do for my fiction. I already use a notebook to capture ideas and thoughts when I’m not at my computer, so why not write by hand and type/edit later? Start using the computer as a tool instead of being distracted by the Internet of Things.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Procrastination won’t be so easy without a direct link to the internet while I’m writing. Or, at least, that’s the idea.

I also want to see if my writing changes at all, if the act of writing by hand allows the thoughts to flow better from brain to paper, or stimulates creativity. My best brainstorming for ideas when outlining is done by mind-mapping onto a sheet of paper. Why not the writing itself?

Added to this, I have discovered a love for writing with fountain pens. They make me write more slowly, more thoughtfully. And my handwriting — which had deterioriated terribly through years of typing virtually everything — is starting to improve.

I’m starting to extricate myself, little-by-little from the online world and become the user instead of the used. I have social media accounts, but I have limited my access to most of them to only when I’m using my computer. There are no social media applications on my smartphone, other than Whatsapp, which I use for sending pictures/thoughts to family members and friends. The applications I couldn’t delete have been disabled.

Like my computer, my smartphone is a tool, to be used when I need it, not when it thinks I should. I’d go back to a dumbphone but a smartphone has some great uses. Like being able to buy my bus and train tickets on the go, and have them show up on my screen; it saves time, and paper. Or being able to find my way around an unfamiliar town through the Google Maps application. It also has an excellent digital camera, which comes in handy for so many reasons. Getting rid of it would be a waste of a good resource, for me, but that doesn’t mean I have to let it rule my life.

Cheryl Sonnier

Written by

Yorkshire writer, living with my husband and army of cat. Yes, just the one. You have to start somewhere. Blogging at https://sonniercheryl.wordpress.com

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