Last week I updated my Mac’s operating system only to discover that my computer was now acting like a phone, sending me pop-up notifications of nearly everything: e-mail, text messages, and social media feeds. The new software made my computer run faster, but my stressed out brain ran slower. Constantly interrupted and distracted by the pop-ups, I couldn’t concentrate on a task, much less finish it, until I figured out how to disable this “convenient” feature.
When I was 24, I quit my full-time office job a few months ahead of my scheduled departure to teach English in Prague. Untethered from the strict routines of office life, I found myself with days so long and wide open they were scary. I wanted to write a novel but had no idea how. Long morning walks were helpful. I had nowhere to be and very little to worry about, so I observed my surroundings, studied the other people who were not sitting in a cubicle at 10 am, and daydreamed about my characters.
Now I am a mother, a teacher, and I’m still trying to write (a different) novel. My time is more limited, but as this tea bag reminded me, I still need a relaxed mind in order to dream up stories. I do my creative writing at night after my daughter goes to bed; it’s the last activity of my day. To prepare, I shun gadgets and multi-tasking. I relax my mind by writing in my journal, taking a bath, or talking to my husband. When I finally sit down to write, I’m holding a notebook and pen instead of a laptop. I may be physically tired, but my mind is open and ready to create.