Now Reading: How to Break Up With Your Phone

3d+Book+Cover+HTBUWYP+jpgYes, the book you’ve always wanted to read (and that I was starting to write!) is now available: How to Break Up With Your Phone, by Catherine Price.

Despite the book’s title, Price teaches us not how to break up with our phones per se, but how to renegotiate the relationship–which requires a break of sorts, at least at the outset.

I’ve just finished the first part, where she builds a compelling (and alarming) case for limiting screen use. Part Two is the “how-to,” which I’ll share more about later.

I learned about the book from a New York Times piece of hers. It’s relatable from the very beginning:

The moment I realized I needed to break up with my phone came just over two years ago. I had recently had a baby and was feeding her in a darkened room as she cuddled on my lap. It was an intimate, tender moment — except for one detail. She was gazing at me … and I was on eBay, scrolling through listings for Victorian-era doorknobs.

We all have our “Victorian-era doorknobs.” And, until users rightly started jumping ship this last week, Facebook.

Many of us will nod our way through the book’s description:

Is your phone the first thing you reach for in the morning and the last thing you touch before bed? Do you frequently pick it up “just to check,” only to look up forty-five minutes later wondering where the time has gone? Do you say you want to spend less time on your phone—but have no idea how to do so without giving it up completely? If so, this book is your solution.

Check out the book here. Ten Speed Press has been kind to send me a review copy, so I’ll write more about it when I’m done, but I already know this is the rare book I’ll re-read once a year.

Resist Injustice, Reshape the World (My Article at Sojourners)

abram-sojo-article

 

Yesterday Sojourners online published my article, “Resist Injustice, Reshape the World.”

In it I reflect on the challenges a Trump presidency presents and say:

Being honest about reality is a primary role Christians can play in society.

And:

The prophetic task of all believers is not just to react to reality rightly named, but to reframe it in the light of a grander vision of the future.

Read the whole thing here.

My Writing Week at Collegeville Institute in MN

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A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending “Apart, and Yet a Part,” a writing week at Collegeville Institute in Minnesota. (I am at far right in the image above.)

Here‘s a short write-up of the week. And here is a full description of it. Days were ours to structure as we liked–for writing, reflection, walking or running around on the beautiful grounds of St. John’s University.

The people at Collegeville Institute were fantastic. The cohort of fellow writers was a smart, kind, and sensitive group of souls. The writing coach, Michael McGregor, helped me immensely. I can’t say enough good things about the week away.

My progress was more in the realm of quality (conceptual breakthroughs) than quantity (sheer word count). I’m working on a project that I might share more about on this blog down the road. (Though this article and this one offer a hint.)

What a week! I’m looking forward to hopefully taking advantage of future offerings at Collegeville.

 


 

This week’s blog sponsor is MailButler, the feature set you always wished your Mac Mail had (and that I’m glad mine does). Find out more about it here or download and try it free here.

The Writing Life (Annie Dillard)

 

I have just become aware of Annie Dillard’s funny and smart little book, The Writing Life. She perfectly captures the ebb and flow–the exhilaration and desperation–that awaits any writer who is serious about putting life to paper.

I’ve only read one chapter so far, but look how it begins:

When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.

If it is this way for Annie Dillard, I have hope as a writer, too.

Dillard knows the paradoxes of writing, and will help the writer to not feel insane, if only by acknowledging the (hopefully temporary) insanity of all who try to write a book:

Writing every book, the writer must solve two problems: Can it be done? and, Can I do it? Every book has an intrinsic impossibility, which its writer discovers as his first excitement dwindles. The problem is structural; it is insoluble; it is why no one can ever write this book. Complex stories, essays, and poems have this problem, too–the prohibitive structural defect the writer wishes he had never noticed. He writes it in spite of that. He finds ways to minimize the difficulty; he strengthens other virtues; he cantilevers the whole narrative out into thin air, and it holds. And if it can be done, then he can do it, and only he. For there is nothing in the material for this book that suggests to anyone but him alone its possibilities for meaning and feeling.

One more:

Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?

If this piques your interest, Brain Pickings did a lengthier post about this miraculously true book here.

A Modest New Year’s Resolution (8 Minutes a Day)

2016 writing

 

Of my too many New Year’s resolutions, perhaps the most important one is to write at least eight minutes a day.

You might have noticed a lot more posts with the “writing” tag since the fall. Much of my writing recently has been by hand. Though, make no mistake, I still feel most agile and fluent with a keyboard.

So far I’m 4-for-4 with eight minutes a day! There’s plenty of 2016 left for me to change my mind, lose interest, give up, etc. But I have already found an eight-minute-a-day habit easier to keep up than other daily goals I’ve set for myself in the past.

Another resolution that hurts a lot more but takes just as little time: 50+ push-ups a day. I hope to work up to 100 by spring.

An Amazing Way to Index Your (Paper) Notebook

Baron Fig Confidant with writing

 

As far as I can tell, there are three ways to organize your catch-all notebook you carry around with you:

  1. Realize that you’re taking notes chronologically anyway, so just flip through by dated entry and hope you find what you are looking for.
  2. Number your pages (or get a notebook with numbered pages) and then keep the first three pages clear for your running Table of Contents.
  3. Use a tagging system, like you would in Evernote.

Yeah, I know. The last one didn’t seem possible to me either. But then I read this. (You’re welcome.)

Quit Trying New Writing Apps and Just Write

The post headline is directed to myself. (Though I’m glad to have just downloaded Mellel on the iPad, which I’ll be reviewing shortly–couldn’t quite help myself. No, really, maybe this will be the app that cures me of writer’s block!)

But seriously: a favorite procrastinating pastime of writers is checking out the latest and greatest writing apps. Not this guy, however: