How often do you unplug? #writinglife

Hi, SEers. Mae here hoping everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Today, I’m rolling out a topic that’s dear to my heart—unplugging. In our technology-crazed, social media-driven, always-on-world, unplugging is a necessity. Did you know there is even a National Unplug Day in the U.S.?  March 1-2 sundown to sundown has been declared the National Unplug day in 2019 for those pledging to go a full twenty-four hours device free. You can find more information on this website and even download a free tool kit with activity guides and conversation starters.

You know what that means? Unplugging has risen to such a level of difficulty, it’s now viewed as a challenge. How sad is that?

harried woman eating, drinking coffee, talking on the phone, working on laptop at the same time.

Last August, my husband and I attended a family reunion out of state. It was a fun time built around an Oktoberfest theme (my father’s side of the family is German) and while the adults were having a blast, I glanced into the sun room and saw three of the teens—brothers and cousins—sitting together, not saying a word. One was on a laptop, one a tablet, and another on his phone. One even had on headphones. That went on all afternoon. For some reason, that has really stuck in my head.

When I was a kid and got together with my cousins, we had a blast. We made our own fun. Now it seems there is a marked awkwardness with face-to-face socializing. Given the choice, many people prefer to be glued to their devices. Not just kids, but adults, too.

I think most of us are guilty. My cell phone is always with me. Even if I’m not checking it, there’s a bizarre security in the knowing the world is only a few taps away. When I step into a restaurant, I switch my phone off. Nothing is that important it won’t wait an hour. Remember the days of talking at dinner? A friend of mine recently walked out of a restaurant because her husband and two teenagers couldn’t put their cell phones down long enough to hold a discussion.

Pathetic, right?

I’ve made it a practice to unplug on weekends, a habit I’ve had for years. Now, Fridays are starting to creep into that stretch as I utilize the day for writing. I read an article recently about consumption vs. creation, the gist being you can’t create—the next scene in your WIP, a character sketch for your new novel, even a daydream—if you’re online consuming content. Creation comes with reflection, pouring the inside out, rather than taking the outside in.

As writers, it’s easy to become entangled in an online web. We need to be there. But we also need time to recharge. To slow down, give our wired minds a break, and embrace the softer side of creativity. Daydreaming, imagining shapes in the clouds, painting settings and worlds in our minds. Indulge. You know you want to. 😀

woman surrounded by clouds with a whimsical whale in he clouds

It takes twenty-one days to form a habit. Even if it’s only x-hours on a particular day, the more you reserve that time as device-free, the more you’ll become adjusted. In twenty-one days you’ll have created a habit.

So let’s hear it—do you unplug? Do you wish you could do it more often? How do you balance time away from your online tasks with time for yourself and your family?

Are you planning to unplug on March 1-2 when many people across the U.S. will attempt to go twenty-fur hours without glancing at a single device.

Let’s get some discussion going. Ready, set, go!

bio box for author Mae Clair

74 thoughts on “How often do you unplug? #writinglife

  1. Pingback: #Unplugging, #AmWriting, and #ThePassage – Books and Such

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    • Sending you wishes for lots of luck,Teri. The weekends are my time to focus on writing and I absolutely love it. Do it often enough and it becomes a habit.

      Wishing you a visit from the muse and tons of inspiration!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mae, you nailed it again. I’m with you 100%. I’m so glad that my younger years were tech free. 🙂 It’s sad to see people sitting together yet so far removed. I never heard of Unplug Day until now. Maybe Canada will jump on board too. Cheers! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can see Unplugged Day eventually sweeping across the world. Like you, I look back fondly on those days of childhood, teen years and young adulthood being tech free—especially the years of playing outside and using my imagination to cultivate fun and games.
      Thanks for visiting, Natalie. Wishing you plenty of inspirational down time! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Suburban Syntax and commented:

    Re-blogging from Story Empire. I wholeheartedly agree with this post from Mae Clair about unplugging. It’s especially important for writers, as “boredom” seems to be in short supply these days. It used to be that boredom and downtime allowed us to reflect, daydream, and work through creative ideas. Now those otherwise quiet moments are filled with tech.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello B.L.!

      Thank you for visiting! I am honored by the reblog, and especially the introduction to the post, as I completely agree with what you said. We have so little down time these days. It is important to carve out minutes where we can and remember that we need to refuel with family, creativity and taking time for ourselves. I’m so glad the post resonated with you and appreciate your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I dont necessarily unplug, but I have a rule that if I spend more than half an hour on any app in one sitting, it’s got to go. I have too much school work to be doing to waste my time on social media, so I’ll go for periods where I dont have Instagram installed on my phone as a way to lower my dependence on a social media I tend to gravitate toward. Great post and good reminder to be looking for the more worthwhile things😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Chiante! That’s a great rule you have about apps and time allotted. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and sucked into a black hole of time, especially when you have more important things waiting. Uninstalling an app for a while is another great idea. Outta sight, outta mind! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts. I’m delighted you enjoyed the post!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I unplug as much as I can, lol. I’m a dinosaur in that I only use my mobile for texts and calls, not internet or anything else. When I’m working on my computer, I ignore anything extraneous to my task in hand. On weekends, I’ll use my iPad for essential catch up, but I keep it to a minimum and never turn on the computer, lol. I am aiming for an unplugged wedding ceremony. Folks can do what they want with their phones for the reception, just not the ceremony part. I think that’s going to be a challenge for people, sadly. Great post, Mae 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG, EVERYONE should be able to unplug during a wedding ceremony!!! I couldn’t conceive of having my phone on or sparing it a glance during a wedding. I hope everyone is respectful in that vein.

      You sound like you do much better than many of us with unplugging, Harmony. I use my phone for just about everything and I have devices everywhere. I just make it a practice to step away from them on weekends, but otherwise, I need to unplug more. It’s no wonder so many people are often harried in today’s constantly wired world!


  8. Completely unplugging is hard to do. I get so far behind that it almost isn’t worth it. I follow a lot of blogs and I feel like if I don’t keep up with content and comments, soon my own blog participation will fall off. It’s such a balancing act and I openly admit I spend WAY more time on social media trying to keep up with everything than I do actually writing. That sucks! I wish I had the answers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree it’s a rough balancing act, Jan. Like you I follow a plethora of blogs and worry about not always being able to comment. I think most people who follow mine now realize I’m offline on weekends and usually catch up Sunday nights or Mondays. But yes, that catch-up routine can be rough. The worst is vacations and the emails that pile up when I am away. Even so, I still need some down time for my sanity, LOL–and creativity! I think the worst is the amount of time we have to spend on promotions which cuts into writing time. I feel like I’m always treading water!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. lol – define ‘unplug’! I spend most of my days on the computer, but only a few hours on social media, and next to nothing on my phone because data in Australia is expensive and…the screen is so tiny! I have a couple of necessary apps [? sheesh, talk about rebranding, they’re just programs] that notify me of bushfires in my area or weather conditions, but that’s it. I know phones, or something like them, are the way of the future, but I just don’t ‘like’ them. If I were out of the house all the time, I might change my mind, but the cost and size factor would still be in play. I think I’ll wait for personal holograms or something. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, acfflory! If I needed to rely on my computer and/or apps for notifications of weather and/or bush fires, I would be all over that! It doesn’t sound to me that you need to unplug. I think the whole idea of unplugging is distancing ourselves from hours spent in unnecessary pursuits (i.e, social media, game play, etc). Your time online sounds extremely necessary! Also, if I’m on my laptop creating and writing, I don’t consider that eating up time that I need to “unplug” from. In the “old days” I would have done it on a typewriter or with pen and paper. I think it’s the always online-need-to-be-wired-into-the latest-soundbite-trend-meme-sharing-opinion thing that we can use breaks from. So glad you dropped by to share!


  10. The boys call us dinosaurs, archaic. We still use a home phone, no cell phones. Yes, I love my computer and spend time online connecting with other authors, friends. But I spend the rest of the time writing. I stop when I start supper and only do one last ten-minute twitter at the end of the night. We have a flip phone we take when we travel or go for long rides, but we only use it for emergencies. We like to talk to each other, spend time together and with your friends. I’ve watched so many people who can’t unhook from their phones. They flip through things on them when they’re with other people. I’d rather concentrate on the person or people I’m with.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good for you, Judi! We still have a landline but unfortunately, all we get are robo calls. I admit that I couldn’t live without my iPhone, but I still love conversing. You and your husband sound like me and mine, and our friends (well, minus the flip phone, LOL). When we get together, we like to TALK, not have our nose in our devices. And when you haven’t seen friends or family in a while, it’s all the more wonderful to socialize and catch up. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m kind of scared to leave my email for 24 hours, I’ll never catch up, lol.
    Seriously though, I take a few hours each day to visit my mom and do outdoor things with hubby. And now I’ve gotten into a number of great shows on the TV at night so my unplug time is stretching–which is a good thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I do unplug Mae and there have been a few times I’ve regretted turning my phone back on. I find it sad to see a group of people on their phones and not communicating directly. What I find even stranger is they might be talking to each other this way. I find myself longing for days of just being without all the extra information, but I’ve become used to it now, too. I still will go outside and just be. Watch a cloud float by or go to the store and forget about my phone. I’ve been known to misplace it often:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re far better than I am with your phone, Denise. I panic if it’s not with me. That doesn’t mean I have to be on it, but it’s become a security blanket, knowing it’s there in the event of an emergency. I do enjoy those down times of being outside (I can’t wait for spring and summer) or just enjoying running errands and being “out and about.”

      The saddest for me is when I see a couple in a restaurant with the husband or wife talking on the phone through the meal while the other one sits quietly eating. I also remember a family of three with the wife on her cell phone, a teenage boy on his iPad and the dad eating his dinner while they talked or played on devices.

      Like you, I sometimes find myself longing for the “old days.” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Given that the period falls from a Friday evening to a Saturday evening I probably won’t have a problem with it, but had it fallen during the week, I’m not sure I’d have the courage either. Of course, unplugging almost means staying off my phone and I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull that off with all I rely on my cell for.

      I’ve been doing a lot of consuming myself and want to get back to creating as well. So glad you enjoyed the post. I suppose there is a bit of irony involved, for had you been unplugged, you wouldn’t have seen it 🙂


  13. I assume when you say unplug, you mean from social media as we all write on our laptops I am sure. I am very controlled about social media and keep it firmly in check so I have time to write and read and do other important things. I do love blogging but I can’t do it for too long as I do get tired of it at a point.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, unplugged means from social media or playing games on your phone, sending emails, things like that—definitely not writing on your laptop. While doing that you would be “creating” rather than “consuming.”

      Good for you on keeping your social media time controlled, Robbie!


  14. I keep my phone on all the time, but if I forget it, or leave it in the car, I don’t panic. I do look at emails over the weekend because if I didn’t, my inbox would be a nightmare. I like the idea of not checking over the weekend, and may just do that anyway, leaving Monday as catch-up day. My kids do know that they can get to me by a simple phone call.

    I have a no cell phone rule at my table. If you can’t even spend one hour with your family without checking your phone, I think it’s an issue.

    As for unplugged day, I will not be participating as my daughter lives too far away not to be accessible.

    I remember many times we went visiting as children (cell phones weren’t popular then but did exist) we either played with our cousins or sat quietly not disturbing the adult conversation. Family reunions were spent talking to family, not texting our cousin that sat beside us.

    Excellent post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I use Monday as my catch up day too, Michele. Sometimes I’ll make it Sunday night, but I am almost always offline Friday PM through Sunday PM. Admittedly, playing catch up is sometimes rough, but the time offline is worth it, as I get so much accomplished.

      It is horribly ironic (and sad) that so many people will have a text conversation with someone sitting beside them or in the next room.

      I like your “no phone at dinner rule” and am in complete agreement with it. Dinner (and reunions) are for conversation!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post!


  15. Reblogged this on Ann Writes Inspiration and commented:

    As a blind person, I rely on technology to help me read. However, when I get my monthly short stories magazine in Braille, I take it when my parents and I goto pick up my daughter for visitation. Although I have my phone in my pocket, it’s while I am riding that I simply read and listen to the radio. I have been known to drift off to sleep while reading, but that’s about the only time I truely unplug from my device completely. However, there are times when I turn my computer off and listen to podcasts or read books through audio or my kindles via Alexa on my Echo Dot. While I am listening to my device, I pick up my crochet and work on that. However, I’m not necessarily checking twitter or comments from other apps when I am in this relaxed listening state.
    For me to truly unplug from all devices, wouldn’t be feasible. However, even though I bring my phone into the kitchen when we have family meals, it stays in my pocket, unless I’m listening to a podcast while eating alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ann, thank you for reblogging the post and for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

      Listening to books, podcasts or music is definitely unplugging. I often read to unplug, or I will unwind by listening to music. It’s the other social media that intrudes—Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. That need to constantly be “on” with the world.

      I have always wanted to be able to crochet and think that would be extremely relaxing as well.

      Thanks again for visiting and sharing your unique perspective!


  16. I like the bit about intake and output. Don’t know if it’s 100% true, but it makes sense to me. I may unplug today. I feel like researching Ebola online gave it to me this morning. Lots of water, the hot pad, maybe some naps…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I wrote a short story about this very thing about five years ago. And I think it’s only gotten worse. Because my kids are in college now and all of our extended family (mine and my husband’s) are hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, I do keep my phone on. But I don’t usually respond to blog comments and the like on the weekends. And we had a “no devices at mealtime” rule since our kids first got phones. It is sad that we have to devote a day to unplugging. (Remember when “unplugged” meant Eric Clapton’s latest album? Which was awesome, BTW.) Technology is great, and I wouldn’t have so many wonderful friends and industry contacts (or even my job) without it. But there are times when it’s just too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Staci, my phone is constantly on and I do have to have it with me at all times. If I’m cleaning the house I make a point to know which room it’s in but that’s probably the only time it isn’t glued to my side. That, or in the summer when I’m swimming. Kind of sad, yes, but I tell myself the weekend unplugging makes up for it. I don’t use my phone then but it still beside me in the event of an emergency.

      I often think of unplugged for Sirius Radio Coffeehouse station, LOL, or the PBS specials with musicians doing acoustic guitar.

      I have to agree about the good side of technology too–all my wonderful friends,who I would never have met and connected with otherwise. That part I would never trade!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Mae, this post goes so well with what I wrote last week (and neither of us planned it). I don’t unplug often enough. A few years ago, we went on an Alaskan cruise. I was unplugged except for the times we were in Alaskan ports. It was wonderful! I need to do this more often.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The weekends are a huge help to me, Joan, almost like a chance to recharge my creative energy. I always unplug on vacations too.

      We were definitely on the same wavelengths with our posts, LOL. I guess that means it’s a relevant topic for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. My son and I unplug every night for “family time.” I always have my phone on me for emergencies, but I keep it on Do Not Disturb during those moments so that only people on my Favorites list (my family) can get through if there is an emergency.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Using the Do Not Disturb option is a great idea, Yvette! I also think it’s wonderful you and your son unplug for family time. I know I always look forward to the time when I get home at the end of the work day and my husband and chat for an hour or so before we even think about starting dinner. We catch up with each other’s day, and then carry that conversation into dinner time. I grew up surrounded my Italians who love to talk, so it has definitely stuck with me, LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so easy to wander, Charles! I’ve been guilty of it plenty of times.
      I always have my phone on for emergencies, too. Today, it’s the easiest way to be reached, and I always have that fear a family member might need me. When I was growing up, we didn’t have that security of being so easily accessible. Now that it’s there, I can’t imagine NOT having it!


  20. When we were staying at a bed and breakfast last weekend the young owner’s teenage brother was staying and was often to be seen lounging – reading a hard back book! Parents used to complain that their children had their noses stuck in a book. If you see an old movie where families actually sat down to breakfast, Dad was stuck behind the morning newsppaer. My father used to hide behind the newspaper when he was home from work, oblivious to what we were up to. Having said that, electronic devices are more addicitve as they respond back to you, but sometimes they are conversation creators; after a meal when you relate to each other latest news from friends or share new family photos from afar.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow! I think it’s cool the owner’s son had his nose in a hardback book. I can’t tell you the amount of memes I’ve seen with kids and books that joke about books being the equivalent of stone age tablets or the like.

      I forgot about the newspaper thing. I grew up in a family of Italians, so meals were always the time to talk. I do know in old movies the father is often depicted reading the newspaper at the table. And yes, there is plenty to share with photos, etc., to generate conversations. Social media has many great aspects. I think it only becomes problematic when it consumes too much time, or hinders face-to-face skills.

      Good point about why electronic devices are more addictive!

      Liked by 1 person

    • ‘…but sometimes they are conversation creators…’ Yes! The Offspring and I often talk about gaming related things [mmo’s not phone games] or political things that make us mad on Twitter. And always face to face. Cut the electricity though, and hence the internet, and we’re both out of sorts until the power comes back on. Choosing not to check Twitter is different to not having Twitter to check!

      Liked by 2 people

  21. I find it easy to unplug, as my eyes give out if I try to work 24/7. I don’t have a mobile phone either, which I’m sure helps a lot.
    Needing to retreat from the digital maelstrom is essential I find, and most days I want to run to my quiet spot, just to think!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I rarely go without my iPad, phone or computer. I’m surrounded by the unholy trinity at all times. The only times I do shut off is when I’m sick. That said, I don’t feel the need to unplug. For me, the isolation of using my devices is actually what I crave and need after the demands of The Day Job. It helps me chill out.
    We’ll be holidaying in remote Tasmania in a months time where there’s no internet, no tv, barely electricity… it’ll be interesting to see how I handle that enforced unplug!

    Liked by 3 people

    • “The unholy trinity.” You crack me up, Jess! 😀

      Given the type of day job you have, I can see where devices would allow you to chill. Mine is the opposite–I’m on a computer battling with websites, technology and/or social media all day so I need that time of unplugging. Even so, I will always suffer separation anxiety if my phone isn’t handy.

      You’re going to have to do a blog post about Tasmania. I wouldn’t be bothered by the loss of TV or Internet, but the “barely electricity” wouldn’t go over well, LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

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