PT: Unplug, Dammit

Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann

I know SEPTA’s got issues. A little inclement weather throws entire train lines out of whack. Engineers desperate to keep on schedule will leave the platform a minute early. Buses plow into eateries. No system is perfect. But I relish my train rides. I don’t pollute, I don’t get bent out of shape over traffic and the jerkasses that come with it, and most importantly of all, I’m unplugged.

I take no laptop, no netbook, no glitzy overpriced unmodifiable gizmo with a lowercase “i” in front of its name. …Okay, I have an iShuffle, an old one in fact, but pipe down I’m making a point. The point is, I have a binder with fiction work in it, be it my manuscript or blank pages to fill with a shorter work, and I take my pen to it. I scribble out thoughts. I frame dialog and action in ball-point gel ink. I write.

Writers have a lot of tools at their disposal to make their lives easier. Dictionaries, thesauruses (thesauri?) and other reference materials fit on thumb drives. Word processing software saves trees in both the writing and editorial process. E-mail lets submissions get fired off to agents and periodicals in a snap. And if you need to research something obscure or find out what’s hot in your genre right now? The Internet is for that. And porn.

But these can also make a writer lazy. A crashing computer can be frustrating as hell and lose you hours of work. The Internet can distract you in various ways. An e-mail from someone to whom you submitted your work that says what you sent just isn’t good enough can be discouraging.

So turn ’em off.

There are times when typing out the words I want to express feels a bit like a disconnect between myself and the work. Like the electronics are getting in the way. Being a child of the electronic age and having grown up around this stuff – I’m still my parents’ go-to guy for tech support – it’s more of a niggling little annoyance than a real issue. However, the feeling still exists. There’s also the fact that my notes, snippets, edits and letters are not going to be obliterated by something as mundane as a power surge or a missed click.

When the zombie apocalypse happens, provided rampant fires don’t destroy everything, I’ll still have my notes. And hopefully some ammunition. I might hold on to my thumb drive full of manuscripts, short stories and ideas, but where am I going to plug it in? How is a computer going to get power? And why didn’t you barricade the door more effectively? I’m in the middle of a love scene here, I can’t stop to grab my shotgun and keep that zombie from helping itself to a mouthful of your brain! YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELF!

…Where was I? Right. Writing.

If you find yourself running out of time during the day for a variety of reasons – you saw a great tweet, you’ve been playing a game, you’re spending an hour every day in your sweltering car screaming obscenities at some douchebag in an Audi who’s yammering into their Bluetooth headset about the killing they’re making in the stock market – find ways to unplug. Disconnect yourself from the grid. Take up a pen or pencil, grab some wood pulp in sheet form, and get to scribbling.

If you have more suggestions on how & where to do this, or if you have experiences in this vein you’d like to share, go right ahead and share ’em. That’s why you’re here, after all.

Unless you were brought here by searching for ‘inception ariadne’ or ‘troll female.’

Which brings up a whole lot of interesting thoughts when you combine those two search strings.


  1. So if we all unplug, how would we visit your blog other than visiting rest stop bathroom stalls?

    (And if you’re a considerate lover you’ll know how to dual wield a shotgun and your “gun” to defend her.)

  2. I like visiting Panera Bread. Yes, I can have internet there, but it’s slower, and being away from home or school puts me into a better mindset to focus.

    I like writing by hand, but I’ve lost too much work to spilled sodas, children, and losing it.

  3. It’s thesauruses.

    I wish I could write by hand, but I never could. Not since I learned that my fingers type faster than they use a pen and my brain works twice as fast as that anyway.

  4. You had me at zombie apocalypse. I’m with you, brother! Let’s shoot some zombies and write shit! lol….

  5. Ok, not shit..because a) I just did, twice, by writing it in my comment and b) who wants to read poor prose? So…let me rephrase that…”Let’s Kill us some zombies and write it about it with our very own, zombie killin’ hands!!”

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