What it was like to not read for a week

I didn’t completely not read and it wasn’t for a full week

Note from Jenn:

Welcome to the newly rebranded Coffee Marketing newsletter!

Hopefully, you all moved over correctly and that everything stayed the same, tech-wise. The new look and formatting are subject to change. If you’ve been reading my newsletter for a while, thank you, and don’t fret, all the sections are still here. The biggest difference (aside from the name change) may be the most welcomed: the Thoughts section, renamed “the tanJennt,” will now have an original piece per issue. In the past, I’ve linked out to published pieces but those will now be going up in this section.

In the last two weeks, I started a paint-by-numbers piece (love it), a new Switch game called Cozy Grove (like Spiritfarer + Animal Crossing), began yet another attempt at edible container gardening, and taken many post-dinner walks in Golden Gate Park.

I could use some advice: do you have a strong opinion on ClickUp vs Notion? I’m trying to decide if I should make a switch to one of these!

And finally, in addition to replying back to reach me privately, you can now publicly comment on the articles! Just hit the “Leave a comment” button at the end of the section or visit the archive at digest.jennchen.com.

Published: The Coffee Spoon Is Much More Than Just A Mere Utensil - a deep dive into the culture surrounding the coffee spoon.

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What it was like to not read for a week

I finished Week 4 of The Artist’s Way and hated much of it. It called for a week of reading deprivation, which is exactly what you think it is: no reading for a week. Because I’m me and like to follow rules when I can, I thought, Maybe this is part of the creative process! She’s taught this workshop for years and is the expert at unblocking creativity. And as I found out, I should’ve stuck to my screaming gut instincts. I made it six days before I went back to reading (more on that later).

I had to make a few exceptions because not reading for a week was impossible for me. Just stop checking Slack and email with no preplanning or notice? I’m sure that would’ve gone over well with my clients, as supportive as they are of me. I can’t just call them up when they work on the other side of the world. Not to mention, how would I keep in touch with friends if I couldn’t text? I didn’t want to call every time I had a random thought. That would be annoying and I hate phone calls anyway.

So my exceptions were:

  • Texting allowed. But I’d try to limit it. Friends changed to leaving voice messages or communicating in gifs or photos only.
  • I could use Slack and email during work hours. I could even look things up if I needed to. But all the newsletters I subscribe to were pushed a week off.
  • Using the map app. I am very good at getting lost if I don’t have a map.
  • My own writing. Since this was supposed to free my mind to do creative things, I figured that I should be able to at least read what I write…right?

Before starting this, I had also done a quick search and noted that some included media in this. Since I always have captions on, I decided on no Netflix or tv. And because my video games have dialogue, no video games.

It. Was. Awful.

Do you know how difficult it is to not read something? All I could think of was this study I read long ago and can’t find anymore on how when you’re shown something (like an ad, as you’re walking around), you automatically read the words. Yes, if it’s a paragraph, you can stop yourself. But a phrase? You read it before you realize you read it. I had so many questions. Do street signs count? Directions for a craft kit? I read the planting info for my seed packets. Did that count as cheating?

A sentence that still pisses me off as I quote it from the book:

“When the rage has been vented when all the assigned reading for college courses and jobs has been mentioned, I point out that I have had jobs and I have gone to college and that in my experience I had many times wriggled out of reading for a week due to procrastination.”

The author suggests instead to play music (but I had to read the playlists), rearrange the kitchen (organizing can only go so far if I can’t look up what organizers to buy), and watercolor (started the paint-by-numbers kit but still had to read the painting tips).

If you sit on this for a while, you’d probably get as mad as me. I cannot fathom a work environment that lets you be utterly incompetent at your job and not get written up or fired. Maybe you can skip reading for a college course if you don’t have to discuss it, but what if participation is required? To be able to blissfully ignore the world around you (can’t read the news) with no consequences is one gigantic privilege.

Around day 6, I got angry. Many little things had compounded to form my anger, and it’s the angriest I’ve been in a while. After quite a full day of doing things, I still had several hours to fill. I won’t tell you all the mundane details of what I did but just know that I even sorted through one clothing drawer to toss out things that had holes. I wrote a big rant on my anger; here’s an excerpt:

“I’m not sure how mental health is taken into account, if at all. I found myself dealing with an anxiety heart while puzzling. I sat on the couch for 10 min wondering what I should/could do that didn’t require energy or thinking. There’s a reason why I stay busy otherwise, my head starts to wander, and panicky feelings rise up. And busy doesn’t have to mean active. There’s no way I’m going to organize anything right now. Can’t do laundry. A little too tired to move, but it’s too early to go to bed (9 pm).

This is around the time when I’d pick up the Switch or turn on the tv. But – I can hear someone pointing out – here you are instead, writing/dumping these words down. That’s different and new.”

That was day six, and I ended the night with a few hours of playing Cozy Grove. It finally calmed my mind down. And on day seven, I got a headache because I read more than I had in a while. I could not win here.

If you were to do this 12-week course, I recommend doing your version of media deprivation, like taking a social media hiatus or not doing Netflix. Don’t deprive yourself of the valuable and good coping mechanisms that keep you balanced.

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🤳🏻 social media

Instagram released the ability to pin up to 3 posts in your profile, expanded its Sensitive Content Control feature to all areas, and added Amber alerts.

Twitter added audio translation for charts. It’s testing a new product drop launch reminder feature, content control tools, and search subscribe notifications (you get notified when someone’s tweet matches your search query). And it’s removing TweetDeck for the Mac to work on the new version.

Meta added a bunch of new features to Reels that resemble those of TikTok.

LinkedIn announced the existence of Business Manager where you can organize pages, admin tasks, ads, etc.

TikTok added digital avatars and new insights to its Creative Center Platform and is testing a clear mode for easy viewing. Also, third-party management tools now have access to publishing onto TikTok. Check to see if yours has it.

📤 digital marketing

👀 interesting reads

artful leaf outlines on left, "plant update" immediately to the right
Two of five of my veggie grow bags. These are a shorter version of sugar snap peas (“sugar sprint”) and basil (red rubin). Yes, I know those are tomato cages but my kill rate of edible plants is 100% so I’m using what I have before investing into more things!

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