Monday, 11 January 2016

Out Of Touch

So, how’s your New Year going so far? Mine’s been quiet. Literally. Nobody called on New Year’s Day (but then, I wasn’t around much to take their calls). At least that’s what my caller display told me. It wasn’t until my sister visited on 3rd Jan that she wanted to know why the phone had been engaged all day on 2nd Jan. Ah. 

I picked up the phone and there was no dial tone. I’d lost the broadband a couple of times over the past few days, and now the two problems seem connected. I rang BT and reported the fault, and because of all the flooding in other parts of the UK they couldn’t promise an engineer to investigate until 11th Jan (although, it subsequently transpired that over 100 other properties in my community were also affected, so I think we were bumped up the priority list).

Which meant for the first week of 2016 I’ve been working differently. (And I don’t just mean that I haven’t been on Facebook quite as much.) 

It’s not until you lose something that you realise how much you use it. Those of you who happen to be Writers Bureau students will know that assignments tend to be submitted by email, from wherever in the world you are based. Thankfully, with a bit of jiggery pokery between my smartphone and my laptop, I was able to keep on top of these.

But I’ve been working on a travel piece that required naming street names as I guided readers round a particular location. Normally, I’d just go to Google Maps. Thankfully, I still have paper maps, and could use them. I would also use the Internet to double-check facts about a place … but again, I always buy guidebooks from tourist attractions, and so I used them to continue with my work.

And it has to be said, I did much more writing last week, without the distractions of TwitFace and other social media websites. And I know I wrote the first draft of a piece I wouldn’t have done, purely because the idea hit me and I sat down with my pen and paper and started writing. (Before, I’d have jotted down the idea, and then Googled some research material, with a view to writing it up later … possibly.)

This forced way of alternative working also generated several other ideas. At one point on Wednesday I felt stuck, and so went off on my daily walk … helped because the sunshine had come out, and we haven’t seen that since before Christmas. At the top of my local hill, I took a photo on my smartphone, and the irony hit me that my smartphone had a great 4G signal there. (So, great connection to the Internet on top of a hill, but no connection at my work desk!) I uploaded the photo to the BBC WeatherWatchers website, and seven hours later it was used on the local BBC regional news programme. (That’s what not having the Internet does!) 

But being at the top of a hill, in gloriously warm sunshine, with Internet access, gave me an idea for an experiment that I’m saving for the summer months.

I also managed to turn my BBC Weather picture into a short filler item for a magazine. And I worked up two other pieces too, one of which involved the need to watch an old film. (Well, who needs the Internet when you’ve got it on DVD?)

So, despite it being a quiet week, it was a productive week. I had to think a little differently in order to achieve what I wanted to achieve, but I did it.

So, the next time your plans go awry, don’t panic. Just take a step back and think about how you might be able to achieve your writing in a different way. Being out of touch has its benefits. 

Good luck.


  1. Replies
    1. I can't claim ownership of originating that idea. Someone else used it on TwitFace or BookEr, or one of the other ones ;-)

  2. It's a good reminder, Simon. And I only remember it too when I'm away from home and not able to use my computer. :)

    1. It's that second or two of blind panic that hits you that's disconcerting. Then once that's passed, you remember how things used to be done!

  3. I like Twitface too! And I can't get this brilliant song out of my head now:

    1. You're showing your age now, mate ;-)

    2. Haha ... #middleagedandproud :)