Reading and Writing Ban

I had an unusual Saturday. I decided to spend the whole day without reading or writing, which included a complete social media, emailing and texting ban. A lot of my life revolves around reading and writing, so I wanted to see what would happen if I removed them completely. I also banned television and Youtube – though not technically breaking my rules it didn’t seem in the spirit of the thing to have my eyes glued to a screen.

I knew it was going to be hard because my eyes are always drawn to words and I read things without a second thought. It got me thinking: What do our eyes latch on to as we look around us? Mine get drawn to words. Does everyone have that in the same way? Maybe some people are more aware of shapes, colours, numbers, or people…

I had a short lie-in that morning. Before I even got out of bed I thought I’d like to have a look at my Open University books; not something I’d normally do first thing on a Saturday (well 10am). The ban made words even more alluring. When I went downstairs I itched to check my Facebook. It was even harder than I thought…

Another thing I would normally do is to look in my diary, to see what I needed/wanted to do with my day. It was weird making my next move without consulting a list! I briefly considered whether reading music counts as reading and I decided that it doesn’t – I wouldn’t want to send myself completely insane. So I started practising the piano and then moved on to trombone.

I enjoyed doing some colouring and went for a gentle walk. My brother came round in the afternoon and it was a blessing to spend time with him without being constantly distracted by Social Media. I taught him how to play my orange plastic trombone! Normally I wouldn’t have been able to give him total attention.

Then I was bored. Even though there was plenty to do there was nothing I wanted to do. I realised that all my occupations are normally interspersed with reading and writing. I was a reading and writing addict, trying to quit cold turkey.

I thought that the day would be freeing, but it wasn’t. I nearly went mad. I felt completely trapped in a wordless world – my main emotional outlet had gone. I didn’t realise how much I depended on it. I was anxious because I kept having ideas and was fearful of forgetting them. Whether I write them down or not I’m still thinking up the words.

As I went through the day I knew I would blog about it afterwards – you’ve got to love the irony! It was lovely spending quality time with my brother, although the rest of the day was a struggle. I have to admit to making a few sneaky notes at the end of the morning, and a bout of Facebook messaging late in the evening…The written word is clearly extremely important to me. I’m glad I tried this experiment, but I’m not sure I’d do it again!


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