Friday, August 23, 2019

Writing Deficiency Disorder by C. Kevin Thompson

Depressing photo of girl on her smart phone.

Writing Deficiency Disorder

Study after study has been done in recent years. Such things as “gray matter atrophy,” “compromised white matter integrity,” “reduced cortical thickness,” “impaired cognitive function,” and “cravings and impaired dopamine function,” are all physiological detriments attributed to this malady that now touches hundreds of thousands of people a year. It is a global issue, and not limited to those of us here in America. It is not discriminatory when it comes to gender or age, although it does affect younger folks more than older ones.

Such alarming things as “structural and functional changes in the brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision making, and cognitive control” have been discovered.1

You might be thinking I am speaking of such horrible diseases like Alzheimer’s, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, or some form of brain cancer or neurological degradation for which science has yet to find a cure.

However, this disease of which I speak is self-inflicted. It has nothing to do with exposure to chemical spills or radioactive power plants. It has nothing to do with the weed killer our farmers spray on our vegetables in the field as they grow or the depletion of the ozone layer and the subsequent exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation.

I’m speaking of your smartphone. That handy-dandy device that brings the world to your fingertips. That electronic wonder you hold in your hand—the same one that has enough computing power to equal that found in both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.

This also applies to the gaming systems your teens may utilize. X-Box One and PlayStation 4 are the latest versions of these to hit store shelves.

The point is, when we are on our devices, whether it be phones or gaming devices, something “ungood” happens inside our craniums. Hemispheres get disconnected. Rerouting of normal brain pathways occurs. Loneliness and depression increases. To put it bluntly, it changes a person. It “messes with our heads,” literally. The normal person spends 135 minutes a day on their devices,2 equaling almost ten percent of an entire twenty-four-hour day. When you factor in sleep (seven hours average), then the percentage climbs to over thirteen percent of one’s waking moments. And this is the “normal” person, mind you. I’m sure we can think of people we know who spend considerably more than two hours and fifteen minutes a day on devices, spread across gaming systems, social media, and other smartphone-related usage, like texting, web-surfing, etc.

For the writer, besides facing the real issue of rearranging our brain structures, which affects how much real, restful sleep we receive, by the way, we face a dilemma all our own: Stolen Writing Time, or what we could label Writing Deficiency Disorder. It hits us in different ways, but each one is kin to the other. For some of us, it’s the incessant buzzing of your smartphone as notification after notification alerts you to the “my world will come to an end if I don’t check it” light flashing in the corner of your device. For others, it’s the “come hither” look our browser button at the bottom of our computer monitor gives us each time we pause when typing. For still others, it’s the dopamine withdrawal we are experiencing because it’s been over fifteen minutes since we accrued our last “fifteen minutes of social media fame” in the form of likes, hearts, and comments. For younger writers, developing a new dance move on Fortnite just may be their kryptonite.

For those of us who call ourselves “writers/authors,” we like to “justify” our online time by saying things like, “Well, I was checking on a sale ad I am running,” or “I feel like if I’m not in touch with my peeps, I'm not being a good author,” or other similar comments. Yes, social media is here for now. Whether it is here to stay is another question. I guess only time will answer that question. Yes, the internet is a tool. Many books can be sold via its engines of ingenuity (although many of us are experiencing hindrances in that area via the “giants” in this land, like Amazon, Google, and Facebook algorithms, for example). Yes, it is nice to “talk” with folks we know who do not live locally. Social media isn’t all bad. The internet does have some useful qualities. Electronics, whether the gaming kind or communicative sort, are not bad, per se. They are amoral. They are neither good nor bad. They are like money. Inanimate objects. It is the love of those items that is the root of evil (cf. 1 Timothy 6:10).

Especially when we allow them to dominate us.

And for us as writers, allowing them to rob us of time that could be spent putting words on the page is our version of this malady: Writing Deficiency Disorder.

So, let TED talk some other time, maybe while you’re cooking dinner or mowing the yard instead. Leave Facebook, Instagram, MeWe, Snapchat, and Twitter alone for a day and see just how many people actually missed you by sending messages like, “Hey, where did you go?” Then, spend that time instead at your computer alone with your manuscript, with the Wi-Fi disconnected (you know you can do that, right?). Shut the smartphone off, or silence it, and leave it in another room. Set a timer or a goal and tell yourself, “I’m glued to this keyboard until I finish (the goal) or the timer goes off.”

Trust me, do this for a month of weekdays, and not only will you have developed a new habit, you will have saved some brain cells, grabbed a little more restful sleep, climbed out of that pit of despair, and put more words on the page than ever before. And to top it all off, like whipped cream on a sundae, your Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, MeWe, and Facebook friends will still be there, and they will still be your friends. You know why? They’re like the rest of the world. They’re just as interested in getting their dopamine fix from how many “likes” they’ve received in the last two hours, or by how many coins or kills they’ve amassed in the latest game craze, as you are by completing a chapter or finally getting to type “The End” on their first draft.

Dunckley, Victoria L. “Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain.” Psychology Today. 2014 Feb. 14. 2019 Aug. 18 <>

2 McSweeney, Kelly. “This is Your Brain on Instagram: Effects of Social Media on the Brain.” Now. The Intersection of technology, innovation, & creativity. 2019 March 17. 
2019 Aug. 18. 

When we are on our devices, whether it be phones or gaming devices, something “ungood” happens inside our craniums. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @CKevinThompson
Allowing smartphones to rob us of time that could be spent putting words on the page is the writer’s version of this malady: Writing Deficiency Disorder.
#seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @CKevinThompson

The Serpent’s Grasp
The Serpent's Grasp

Something ominous lurks under the waters.

Dr. Evelyn Sims, a brilliant marine biologist, is being watched. Her husband's mysterious death at sea—with the only survivor of the Greenback telling a shocking, unbelievable tale—has thrown her personal life into chaos. Her scientific views are being scrutinized. Her husband's office and their home are investigated. Called in by the FBI to help solve the mystery, Evelyn is thrust into her toughest research project ever...and forced into a maze of deception and betrayal.

Micah Gregson, the Coast Guard captain who rescued the Greenback, is determined to find out why a special unit at the FBI—the one assigned to cryptozoological cases—is involved.

Together Evelyn and Micah will uncover a plot more deadly than anything the ocean could ever produce. One that will either save Evelyn's life and redeem her career, or destroy everything she—and myriad others—stand for.

C. Kevin Thompson
is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a kid at heart. Often referred to as “crazy” by his grandchildren, it’s only because he is. He’s a writer. Need he say more?

The first four books of his Blake Meyer Thriller series are out! Book 1, 30 Days Hath Revenge, Book 2, Triple Time, Book 3, The Tide of Times, and Book 4, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen, are now available!! Also, the second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is also now available!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, NCIS, Criminal Minds, BBC shows Broadchurch, Shetland, Hinterland, and Wallander, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too. But you will never catch him wearing a deerstalker. Ever.

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
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