Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop Out: Timothy Leary’s Advice Twisted to Talk to Writers

Okay, “Turn On. Tune In. Drop Out.” Is the correct phrasing but while trying to get to sleep the other night, it occurred to me that if we tweak Leary’s counterculture contribution, we can use it to help us as writers:

Turn Off: One of my New Year’s resolutions was to keep the television off until 7pm at night. Granted, I would have to give up my precious after school A&E American Justice and Cold Case Files routine but I felt that I could dedicate that time to other interests such as working out, reading, and writing. So far, this has been one of the best resolutions I have ever made. It is amazing how much more writing I am getting done. My biggest excuse had always been that I just didn’t seem to have time to write. Duh! By turning off the “opiate of the masses” I have created so much more time to be creative and have even started dabbling in poetry again!

Tune Out: Rejection is difficult for anyone and it has often been the excuse I used not to share my writing with anyone. The advice here is to tune out or ignore those that do not offer constructive criticism. Not everyone is going to like what we write, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone out there who will. Even if you send out piece after piece of writing only to be rejected every time, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep pursuing publication if that is your dream. Tune out those negative voices (including your own) and just keep writing.

Drop Out: I admit, I am not a big fan of social networking but about a year ago I signed up for Facebook so I could keep in touch with my family back East and so I could satisfy my voyeuristic inclinations by reconnecting with old friends from high school. Just before the holidays, I deactivated my account. For me, personally, dropping out of the social networking scene (such as it was to me) was the best thing I could have done for my writing. I found I spent way too much time messing around on Facebook and ignoring not only cleaning my house, folding my laundry, and grading papers, but also the ideas in my head that might have produced some interesting writing. Since committing “virtual suicide” I have done more reading and writing than ever before and even managed to lose five pounds.

I’m not saying this advice will apply to everyone. Surely, there are writers out there that don’t have such an addictive personality that Facebook and other such sites get in the way of their progress. I just know that the distortion of Leary’s statement made a lot of sense to me as I tossed and turned in bed the other night and maybe it will for someone else as well.

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About M. Jaynes

A female educator with anger-management issues, M. Jaynes is causing change in the world by inspiring (some may say forcing) young minds to think for themselves and question everything.


  1. Eric Bahle says

    Some good advice there. Especially the TV.