My week of Reading Deprivation (part 1)

November 4, 2017

Reading deprivation is an exercise in Week 4 of The Artist’s Way. (More about the book here. I’ll just say that for a book that was written 25 years ago, it is wonderfully relevant and a must-read).

It is as drastic as it seems – no reading, for a week, and in this age, it automatically means no social media either. The idea is that once you control how much information you consume, the outflow (what you create) will see a drastic improvement as well. ‘It is a paradox that by emptying our lives of distraction we are actually filling the well,’ writes Julia Cameron in the book. And how true that is, I was to find out.

I’ve become a big fan of the Morning Pages that she recommends in her book, and I love how it helps me feel more sorted in my head for the day ahead. I believe this routine of writing my Morning pages, despite the 30 minutes time taken each morning, has had a great impact on me as a individual, a parent and as an artist.

Barely a third of the book down, and I love it already. Naturally, I was excited to try this Reading deprivation exercise. No reading and no media meant three things out for me instantly for a week – general internet reading, Instagram and watching stuff online.

In the past I have tried to be more conscious about my reading habits online in particular, and how I end up clicking on one mildly interesting link after another and soon I’m far down the rabbit hole and 20 minutes have flown past. This has been only awareness, and I haven’t done much to curb it until now.

And there’s Instagram. That beautiful time-sink filled with beautiful art (my timeline!) and a bunch food and other photographs. I love the medium for how much amazing art there is out there, and I hate it for how often I’m mindlessly scrolling through posts, Liking posts and then mildly feeling inadequate about my own skills or my parenting, or my life, or rolling my eyes at someone’s pretentiousness. I’ve deleted the app for a week at a time twice in the past and this has greatly made a difference to how frequently I used the app. I scroll past a few posts and close the app now, I don’t try and catch up with all. And yet, I would find myself frequently and idly picking up the phone and scrolling through.

Coming to the third, my guilty pleasure. Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’ve lately gotten into the habit of binge-watching stuff, especially when I’m doing something that doesn’t involve too much thought. Like exercising, or even painting, at times. Not good.

So, the reading deprivation was a good thing for me to try, clearly. And since this post is getting too long already, I’ll talk about how the week went in part 2.


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