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Have you tried Media Deprivation?

Media Deprivation, a tool I first introduced in The Artist's Way as Reading Deprivation, is a conscious unplugging. In the twenty years since The Artist's Way was published, I expanded the term to "Media Deprivation" to include the many devices and distractions now available to us on a constant basis.

Media Deprivation is one of the most resisted-- and most productive-- tools I teach.

It is just what it sounds like: no media. I ask my students to try this for a week. This means turning all devices off: no reading, no emailing, no texting, no surfing the Internet. No talk radio, no TV. And yes, I can feel the protests as I type this.

I know you need to check your email for work. And I always say that "I teach adults." No, I am not asking you to quit your job or behave in a way that would get you fired. But I am asking you to try limiting the constant interruption of "inflow" as much as you possibly can. For one week. And if you cannot turn your devices completely off, you can certainly contain the access people have to you without being irresponsible. I am not asking you to be irresponsible to your work. I am asking you to be responsible to yourself.

When we are constantly interrupted, we lose our train of thought. When my students experiment with turning their devices off, they find that they are often flooded with ideas, even inspiration.

Media Deprivation casts us back onto ourselves, puts us in touch with our own thoughts and ideas, and often frees up a lot of time.

Try experimenting with this, and see what happens.

-adapted from "The Prosperous Heart"

14 Comments on "Have you tried Media Deprivation?"

  1. Yes I have tried media deprivation of sorts. One month before the 2008 election I quit watching the news of any kind. I turned off the TV. It was freeing. It helped with some depression. I got that idea from you. Terah

  2. Profile photo of Sherry Edmunds-Flett

    I decided last night to unplug my blackberry until January 3rd.

  3. Going to do this as I know I need to cut out teh distractions.

    Thanks KGB

  4. I just finished a week of media deprivation and am planning to blog about it. I really enjoyed it – I did make some exceptions (family TV time for example) but no reading, no articles, no blog posts, no NEWS AT ALL, no sports, and no social media. The social media deprivation was the hardest and the best thing about the week. The extra time I gained allowed me to meditate more than I’ve ever done before and I spent about 4.5 hours total writing the beginning of a new novel. I went pretty hardcore and am planning to restrict my social media going forward, as well as sticking to specific TV shows and highly filtered news. Thank you!

    • I’m making my way through all of The Artist’s Way for the first time in over a decade, when I did it in college. It’s different this time, but transformative and inspiring as ever. I’m on media deprivation week, and checked here to see what I can “get away with”. Thanks for the clarity (and the focus that I will surely experience now that I have verified just how “disconnected” I should aim to be). I caved last night to a Facebook browse, which is particularly addictive during election season. But, having done a couple of days of deprivation, I felt very inundated and fragmented by all the noise. I decided to volunteer at a phone bank this week, in lieu of imbibing all of this political jabber. It feels GOOD. Thanks for lighting the way. I starting writing a play yesterday for the first time since college. Instead of swallowing the words of others, I have begun to create and commit to a full story and cast of characters. The forward motion has begun!

  5. Vanessa-Renee Mical says:

    For the people who have done the media deprivation, does listening to music count?

  6. Wait, so can I read books? Real ones that come from trees?

  7. Danielle Wiedefeld says:

    Can I read educational books?

    • I actually closed all my books. I didnt even open up a textbook even though I have some papers due this week. I will just have to hustle thought them.i have to say, best thing ever. I also deleted all my social media apps, except for Pinterest. Which I only used for inspiration for creating some art.
      I only came online now to read more about about reading about reading deprivation and how long to continue for. I will be doing this more frequently. What a wonderful exercise.

  8. Is studying a language allowed during the media deprivation? I use Duolingo website for my language study.

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