Mt. Angel Abbey Church

Mt. Angel Abbey Church (Photo: Mt. Angel Abbey)

I returned to Mount Angel Abbey last weekend for my annual retreat. From Friday to Sunday afternoon, I was away from home, but more importantly I was away from the Internet. No email, no Facebook, no Twitter, and no blog. I brought my laptop to write on, and my cellphone to stay in touch, but without WiFi or data service I had no choice but to stay offline.

It was amazing how much work I got done without the constant distractions of the online world: 4,000 words in two days in between praying the offices with the monks, praying the rosary on my own, walking the Abbey grounds, reading, and meals. It was full schedule, but never rushed.

Then, a few days ago, an old friend of mine from my Music School days announced her temporary departure from Facebook. For one month, with the exception of email, she’s going off the Internet. Which got me thinking: I’m not in a position to go offline for a whole month—too much of my writing and almost all of my networking is based online—but I could take one day off a week. Shut off my WiFi, use the cellphone instead of the iPhone, and only use my laptop for writing.

I’m going to try it this weekend: at least 24 hours offline. I will log on tomorrow morning, but I will disconnect by lunchtime and not log back on until Sunday afternoon.

I’ll write a followup post Sunday evening reporting on how the experiment went.