This year, I'm trying something different. Instead of making a list of several resolutions, I am going to try a single change and experiment with how it affects the rest of my life. I'm inspired by past changes that have involved diet, exercise, and even sleep--make one change and it's astounding the ripple effects it can have on all areas of your life. Here goes nothing.
For my first New Year's Experiment (please forgive me if I sound like a magician), I've decided to take a year long break from Facebook. That's right, folks. I'm saying see you next year to the land of digital friendship and striking out into the unknown forests of real life. Before you roll your eyes, or warn me that I will feel too distanced from the world and all that I love in it, hear me out.
The idea struck me when I visited Orchard House earlier this year, where Louisa May Alcott penned Little Women. The tour guide showed us Alcott's room and desk where she wrote her famous novel telling us that "Louisa May Alcott was able to write the book in just three short months--how did she do it so fast? Part of her secret was writing up to fourteen hours a day. But the other secret to her success? Not having Facebook or Twitter." I laughed along with the rest of the tour group at the bad joke, but immediately recognized the truth here.
Besides all the common arguments for taking a social media break, I specifically want to experiment with the effects of a social media fast on my creativity. Yes, there are some pretty big creative goals I have this year. I want to produce my new play Big Work. I want to finish my book I've been writing for the last two years. But I am also curious to see what happens when I write in my journal on the train instead of scrolling through my newsfeed, or breathe backstage at a show instead of posting a selfie of myself in costume. I'll be blogging as usual, and new blogs will automatically be posted to Facebook and Twitter, so you can still find things on my pages there.
Maybe I'll fail at this or maybe I'll hate it. That's ok. Experiments are just that---experimental. A year is actually quite short in the grand scheme of things, and I want to see what happens when I try this at least once. This experiment also appeals to the actor in me. It relates to the "Magic If" question that drives me when I create a character or explore a scene onstage.
What if I get to see the world differently? What if I get to grow even closer to the people I love? What if I see what it feels like to be more present? What if I get a glimpse of what Louisa May Alcott felt when she let herself be consumed by her passion? What if I hate it? What if I feel isolated from stepping away from this well-formed habit of mine? Regardless of what I find, at the end of the next twelve months, I will have new information about myself and the way I relate to the world. And new information is a good thing. Nothing to lose, so onward I go.
This New Year's, rather than give yourself marching orders for resolutions, why not try your own experiment? Life is so temporary and our own creativity is such a mystery, so why not dare to do something different than what we've done in the past?
What's your "Magic If" question this year? Whatever it is, I wish you a bright and peaceful New Year filled with the inspiration to do something you've always dreamed of doing.
New Year's Round-Up of Guest Blog Posts of Mine Elsewhere:
My lovely friend Alyssa Franklin runs Learn Through the Arts, a fantastic site exploring her journey as a teaching artist, and she was kind enough to let me guest post this fall: http://www.learnthroughthearts.com/blog/creative-conspirator-melissa-bergstrom
If you haven't seen it yet, check out my guest post on The Gift of Creative Community over at Jess Pillmore's brilliant site, Creativity Independent.
My blog post Creative Contingencies: Making Peace With My Day Job(s) was named one of 2015's most shared blog posts at Howlround. A fabulous piece of news to get before the New Year!