Lately there have been plenty of thunderstorms where I live. And as we all know, with thunderstorms often come power outages, or “blackouts”, if you will. Now I’ll be honest: I’m not a fan of blackouts. Storms fascinate me, and I enjoy watching the occasional lightning show outside my window, but when it means taking out the electricity that powers my computer and router, I can’t say I really care for it. There is an upside to blackouts, though, and the most recent ones in my area have inspired (read: practically forced) me to write this post.

Lightning3Let me start off by making a slightly embarrassing confession: I’m completely addicted to technology. I have trouble getting off the Internet for longer than an hour, I take an iPod with me every time I leave the house, and I always go to sleep well after midnight because I just can’t tear myself away from the screen before getting one more idea typed out. So the occasional abstinence from that addiction is probably healthy, especially for someone as hooked on electronics as me.

The thing is, electronic devices, despite all their practicality, are a major distraction. From what, you ask? Well, that depends on what type of person you would be without modern technology in your life. And as a writer, the type of person I would probably be is one who can frequently think up new ideas and write nonstop until a whole novel is done. But my gadgets always seem to draw my attention away from the tasks on which I should be focusing most.

Enter the power outage. Yes, I do get annoyed at first when a bad storm takes out the electricity; no TV or Internet means I can’t kill time on some of my favorite hobbies, and though I do work on a laptop, it’s already over four years old and the battery just doesn’t stay charged as long as it used to, so I prefer to leave it asleep. But I find that all these gadgets off allow for the quiet time in which some of my most creative ideas often emerge.

It’s kind of like meditation, really. I’m too easily distracted by the technology around me, and too addicted to drop it at a moment’s notice (without suffering withdrawals, of course). Yet I love taking the occasional break just to daydream, and when I can’t be drawn back to my electronic devices right away, those breaks can last even longer, providing extra time for a good story to come to me. On top of that, I have more time for hobbies like reading books, listening to music, and other activities that help me get inspired for writing.

So if you have a stronger willpower than I do when it comes to technology, I highly recommend taking long breaks from it once in a while, at least enough to let your ideas flow without distraction. And if you are like me, thoroughly annoyed throughout the first minutes of a blackout, try to think of it as an opportunity to set your creative spirit free. Maybe all it wants is a chance to breathe.

Are you as hooked on technology as I am (or worse)? Do blackouts ever help you keep your addiction in check, or are they just a reason for angst?

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