What an Olympian can teach writers…

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Did you ever think that an Olympian can teach writers anything? Perhaps surprisingly, yes. Here’s a great message from champion skater Nathan Chen…

My husband has had his head buried in his cellphone, over the last few weeks, watching the Olympics. (He found the women’s hockey game to be particularly exciting. Go Canada!)

Not me. I’d much rather read a novel.

But I did pay attention to a recent blog post by Cal Newport, who documented an interesting factoid about American skater Nathan Chen.

Chen, it seems, didn’t bring his cellphone to the 2022 Olympics, even though it meant he wouldn’t have a camera to snap pix of the opening and closing ceremonies or record the accomplishments of his teammates.

Why did he make such a radical decision? According to Newport, it was, “to escape the cognitive drain induced by “the urge to scroll for hours through social media.” He brought his guitar instead, choosing to replace dopamine hacking with high quality leisure.”

Who knows whether that decision helped Chen achieve his gold-medal goal. But I know many people — many writers — who spend far too much time on their phones. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are the biggest lures and I’m grateful that I’ve never had much interest in either of those platforms.

My kryptonite is TikTok. I downloaded it to see one mini-video that had been mentioned in the New York Times and I’ve since become addicted to the short, interesting (and, sometimes) funny videos. The algorithm is smart and it seems to know exactly what I’m interested in (back and knee exercises and kitchen hacks) so I don’t feel as though I’m wasting time.

But, of course, I am. If I took every minute I spent on TikTok and used it to read a book, I’d be so much better off.


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