a peek inside the fishbowl

15 Apr, 2007

My plan to temporarily demedia myself

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I received a lovely note from my friend Zhenecka. It came in the form of a comment on an art card I made some time ago. And it reminded me of something that I’ve been pushing away to the far corners of my mind.

My art supplies have been gathering dust. I haven’t sketched or come up with any excitingly original ideas in ages. I wonder why the bloom has faded as much as it has these past months. In fact, it’s more than faded, it’s hanging by a sinew and even the bees won’t touch it. What’s changed, and why haven’t I been as excited about this stuff as I used to be?

I’ve been taking the easy route and sending out more mail via postcardx than I have in a long time. But I have to ask myself, is it possible to force oneself to be more creative? When the muse is lost, where does she go?

I’ll tell you where it’s not:

  • it’s not in the television set. And it’s definitely not in shows like ANTM or House. And it’s not on the evening news with Peter Mansbridge.
  • it’s not in books, newspapers or magazines
  • it’s not in blogging (reading or writing), idle surfing, or Facebook.

I’m going to eliminate all of these from my diet for a week, starting tonight.  (!)

I know what you’re thinking. There are so many great books, magazines, blogs, television shows and newspaper articles that are worth reading! And it’s true, but those things aren’t helping me develop my own creative ideas.

This week I AM allowing myself:

  • work-related Internet use only (this is going to be tough)
  • pen and notebook
  • pencils and sketchbook
  • music and radio
  • the camera

This morning Mark woke up and asked if we were doing the media-free thing. What’s this we, I wondered. Sometimes I have a feeling that he kindly tolerates my whims but secretly thinks I’m crazy, that is, when he’s not trying to dissuade me, like when I suggested we go without the car for a month to see what it’s like. I thought this was one of those times I’d be on my own. I was barely awake and he was practically bursting. His sudden enthusiasm surprised me.

“So we’re cutting out TV, right?” he asked.
“And mindless Internet surfing?”
“Uh huh.”
“What about reading?”
“No reading.”
“Not even books?”
“No. The only thing I’m planning on reading is this,” I said, pointing to the print out of Kubla Khan on my nighttable. (I’m memorizing it, but that’s the subject of a whole other post.)
“That frees up a lot of time you know,” he said thoughtfully.

Of course I knew. I had no idea where he was going with this. I was already planning what I was going to do with this extra time: long walks (last night I did a brisk 3.3 km), periods alone with a coffee and a sketchbook, painting, bubble baths, long-distance calls, letters to friends, maybe some laps at the local pool … and I was even reserving room in my head for those pesky (and much less romantic) things like cleaning out the fridge and washing the floor. (Really!)

“I know what we can do,” said Mark, interrupting my reverie. “WE CAN CLEAN OUT THE BASEMENT!”
“We need to do it anyway, right?”
“Er, yeah. But you do realize this was all supposed to be about MY MUSE, not the basement, right?”

Anyway, as you can imagine, I lost that argument. So amid the paintbrushes and bits of paper you can imagine me heaving cardboard boxes around a dark room and sorting piles of papers/clothing/etc.

So as of right now I’m officially going to turn off, tune out, and drop out. I’ve promised myself that I’m going to do it for a week. But I have to admit that I really don’t know if I can do it. Could you? Are you willing to join me and report back next week? It would help to know I wasn’t alone! :)

Over and out,


16 Responses to "My plan to temporarily demedia myself"

1 | Porter

April 15th, 2007 at 6:34 pm


nope. not doing it with you…this week.

i only watch one hour, two hours of tv per week tops. i read about an hour a day, mostly before bed. i walk 3.5km five times per week.


i have noticed that i began surfing the net and doing ‘blog stuff’ waaaaaay too much over the past many months. i hope to create some balance for myself…soon.

2 | Alison

April 15th, 2007 at 8:47 pm


Yeah, I’ve just lost most of another evening to blog reading. So much interesting stuff out there, but I’d rather be writing more and reading less.

So even though it makes me blanch … I’m in.

Wow. I’ve never given up reading. Ever. For anything. This might be hard. I hope you know what you’re getting us into! It’s only a week, right?

3 | Ginger

April 15th, 2007 at 9:35 pm


I am in! Except we are modifying it a little. I will post about it on my blog. I am SO excited!

4 | kate1976

April 16th, 2007 at 4:44 am


Good luck with your media diet. See you in a week!!

5 | Pamela

April 16th, 2007 at 8:52 am


I will miss you,but as always admire your convictions. I wish I was as strong.

6 | Stefania

April 16th, 2007 at 9:26 am


I think that’s a great idea. I’ve been thinking that far too much of my time is spent surfing the ‘net. Yesterday I realized that instead of spending 15 minutes that I may have free while waiting to be picked up or leave for some place surfing the ‘net I could clean the bathroom or do something (anything) more productive. It never dawned on me until yesterday. Computers and TV really do suck you in, eh? I’m looking forward to all my fave shows ending for the year so I’ll have more time to cook, bake, read, exercise and scrapbook. You’ll have to report back to us — your struggles and accomplishments.

7 | Karrie

April 16th, 2007 at 2:58 pm


Sounds relaxing to me. Enjoy!

8 | Rhea

April 16th, 2007 at 3:24 pm


This is a great idea: a media fast. I am going to stay on an island in May that has no media as far as I know. That will be my media fast.

9 | zoom!

April 16th, 2007 at 4:17 pm


Not me. I’ve already given up TV to make more time for blogging. I couldn’t possibly give up blogging to make time to clean the basement.

House is supposed to be really good this week, by the way. ;)

10 | zhenia

April 16th, 2007 at 8:09 pm


Hey! After I posted that comment, I realized that the ATC wasn’t a recent one. It’s still wonderful.

Enjoy your media-free week! I did it last year when I stopped reading for a week. It was super and disturbing at the same time. I’m looking forward to hearing about your week next week. I’m also looking forward to hearing about Kubla Khan.

11 | Sharon

April 17th, 2007 at 10:13 am


i use computer time to get away from the T.v. grant you I would get more house work done. I’m not sure I could be away from it for a week unless I left the house and went away. As for Reading WHY? WHY would you stop reading? I never get more than a hour a day to read. I love books there is no way I could go with out reading. NOT HAPPENING.

Good luck and hugs

12 | BeachMama

April 17th, 2007 at 2:25 pm


yep, not joining you on this one, but congrats to you. We went without power for 8 hours yesterday and that was enough for me at this moment. I know that when the sunshine finally pushes through the clouds and the snow/rain dries up there will be so much less media going on that all will be well again.

13 | Rayne

April 17th, 2007 at 2:53 pm


My problem right now is trying to get back in (at least the internet and reading part). I’ve been out for so long with the new baby and adjusting to a whole new way of life, that I’m not sure where or how to fit the old stuff back in. But I’m trying and I feel like I’m starting all over again. I say good luck though.

14 | Mary Lynn Smith

April 19th, 2007 at 2:10 pm


I know your media-free week is half-way through, but I’m in — starting now, for a week.

I’m feeling overstuffed with too much input, and not enough output.

Thank you for the inspiration!

15 | Alex

April 19th, 2007 at 7:26 pm


I think it’s a great idea. It is amazing how much time can flit by while surfing or watching TV … and how little real _experience_ one gets out of it. I think I would do it a bit differently though. Here would be the scheme I’d try (no, not that I’m going to actually do it right now, but I have done similar things in the past, although perhaps not as purposefully and deliberately – in any case, I digress):

– cut out any “home” computer usage
– cut out all TV except if there is one or two good dramas that you follow, then I think that is a safe exception (as long as it’s planned, you know when and which channel, you watch it, and when it’s over the TV goes off … not into channel surfing mode) … another option would be to rent a series you really like on DVD, and allow yourself one episode per night. I think having daily, well, not “rituals” per se, but something to look forward to that is the same each day, is somehow very satisfying.
– absolutely no newspapers or magazines or any other “news” type media
– I’d allow reading, for novels or (my particular interest) history. I mean, this would be part of the reason why it would be great to have the extra time … at least for me. It would give one the chance to really immerse oneself in a book, almost like while on vacation (at least I like to do that when I’m vacation … but then again, I was the one who read the Feynmann Lectures Part I cover-to-cover during a weeklong stay in Barbados … so perhaps I can get a little too into this reading thing :).

Anyway, good luck with it … let us all know how it went (but no pressure ;)

16 | kim

April 20th, 2007 at 11:12 am


I am very impressed that you can actually do this! Sometimes I feel like my laptop is permanently attached to my body.

That being said, I really do miss reading your daily updates! So, while I’m envious of your technology break, I hope you come back soon – hopefully with lots of great stories about your technology-free adventure!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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