Before I became a published author and business owner, I used my computer for emails and writing. And, in my former life as an ESL teacher to adults, my lack of tech knowledge always prompted a lot of laughter from my savvy students. I didn't know how to download or upload and once mistakenly gave an entire class a porn site to peruse instead of the prepositions they were supposed to practise. But, when I started Perfect Pen Communications, my freelance writing/editing business, and published Finding Lucas, I realized that I needed an online presence. Enter Twitter, Facebook and a whole new world.
At first, I tweeted like a spammer and wasn't quite sure what it meant to like and share with "friends." But I quickly learned how to promote myself and connect with people through the World Wide Web (do people still call it that?) In fact, you might even say I became addicted to the clicking. And I've been lucky enough to get to know an amazing group of authors, readers and bloggers through my newfound love of online communication. So, when I had to unplug for a week because my family and I were going to the Dominican Republic, I panicked.
Would my readers disappear because I was gone for a week? And how would I survive without the daily emails and comments from my Twitter and Facebook friends? Would it be like I'd never existed if I shut down my computer? But, I was also excited to spend serious quality time with my family. Not just my husband and kids, but my parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. And I was intrigued by the challenge. Could I actually go a whole day without checking my sales ranks?
The moment the plane touched down in the sunny, steaming hot Dominican Republic, I instantly relaxed. I'd been hunched over a computer for so long that my chin automatically dropped to my chest whenever I sat down. And by the time I'd downed the first of many tropical drinks while swimming with my kids, running through the surf and watching the sun set from my balcony Jacuzzi, my online world was a pleasant memory. Every second with my family was spent smiling (well, except for the few kid meltdowns), and I moved, talked and breathed more slowly than I had in so long.
Now, I did check my email once or twice at night after the kids were asleep. But I didn't respond. And I didn't buy the WIFI access that would enable me to have Internet in my room. I truly unplugged and recharged, and I have come home a different person. For a few more days, I'll be calmer and less stressed. What will last is how appreciative I am of the awesome people I have in my life. And the incredible reviews for Finding Lucas that I came back to have also put a massive smile on my slightly tanned face. I am now a darker shade of pale.
I did miss my online friends, and I can't wait to hear how everyone's doing. And yes, I've already checked the sales rank and reviews for Finding Lucas. But, I now know that I can leave my computer and revel in my life that my exists away from it. And I can come back better with a renewed energy.
So, if you haven't yet unplugged and taken a break from the computer craziness that consumes us, especially us authors, do it. Because it's okay to shut down once in a while even if it's only to take a nap. Everything will still be there when you come back.