Building Blocks

Success is looking at the big picture.

No, I have not become one of those motivational blogs, I will not be adding a link to paid motivational services on the sidebar. I’m just thinking aloud. Or in text anyway. Text isn’t particularly loud.

The point is that, as I have to keep telling myself, if you try to gauge your achievements by how much you get in one day, you’re probably going to see a fairly low level of achievement. At least if you’re me. I get like maybe 2 Things done per day, if I really push myself.

But how much do I get done in a week?

That is, a week where the majority of days are not spent thinking “Well, I didn’t get anything done today, just like I never get anything done on any day, why even bother trying”. How much do I get done in a week where I allow for the fact that getting things done might actually take a week? Or a month, even. Do I even notice? I think you can probably guess that the answer is “no”; I don’t notice, because I’m so used to focusing on the right-now, where I’m a failure, and that’s very easy to do. Am I Doing Anything right this second? No? Failure for life. That’s been my modus operandi for the past, I dunno, 14 years let’s say. Partly because I’ve been raised to internalise guilt-trips, partly because once you get started it’s such an easy self-hypnosis to perform that it’s hard to catch it before it perpetuates itself.

So today I’m going to start adding onto the whole “writing about writing” thing. Broadening the scope a little, you could say. My goal with this blog was always, in an abstract, idealistic kind of way, to try and portray the authentic experience of Writing, including all the other stuff that goes on in a writer’s life, some or much of which may actually have nothing to do with writing. Time for a new tag. I kinda like the ring of “I-never-go-to-the-gym rat”.

Today, I walked 4 kilometers in under an hour, including 2 hills. Truth be told it was just the same hill twice, because I’m efficient like that. This was inspired by watching one of my youtubers responding to his subscriber chat, in which somebody had lost 40 pounds (they’re American) in 45 days by walking 5 kilometers (they’re inconsistent) per day “at whatever pace I could manage”. I don’t know if I can manage 4 kilometers a day every day for the next month-and-a-third, but building on top of my Ubermensch schemes, I sure fucking wanna.

So, there. That’s something that I did today. And I’m recording this because my guilt-breaking goal is to tally up all the shit that I’ve done in a week and start judging my achievements based on that. This strategy shall destroy the sediment that has caked my brain into submission, and self-imposed guilt and shame shall be no more. So sayeth the Ubermensch! Maybe that should be my tag instead.

Writing-wise: tomorrow I have 2 assignments to practice-mark, and then on Tuesday I will compare with the lecturer and hopefully that will set me up for marking the next 33. After I’ve done marking, I’m probably going to try and do another 4 kilometers and then get stuck into finishing the final 2 chapters of my shitty YA werewolf novel, which really shouldn’t have taken this long to write but, well, it has. That’s the plan. But the novel part of that plan can happen at any point during this week – the marking, that needs to actually be done tomorrow, so that takes priority. Either way, both will get done, and it will be good.

Will I ever use this new category again? Even the Ubermensch cannot be fully certain. But the point is that I got to make a progress report, and even if it’s not about writing …

Here’s the thing.

Writing is so often a thing that we have to fit in around other shit that we have to do. Often, that shit that we have to do has to be fit in around procrastinating on doing said shit. So writing ends up having to squeeze in between two already opposing sides, like Jason sailing the Argo through those two rocks that smashed together constantly.

So getting your time-management under control, not just in terms of the actual scheduling but also the mindset you bring into it – in my case, forcing myself to get into the habit of judging my success/progress over a long period of time rather than only ever in the moment – is absolutely essential to getting writing done. Getting writing done is part sitting the fuck down and writing, part sorting out all the rest of your shit so that you will actually sit the fuck down and write. Today, I’ve started pushing towards the latter.

It reminds me that I really don’t “have” anything to write, though. Nothing that really demands my attention creatively. I suppose that can wait, though. Once I have broken some of my shitty habits and given myself the clean slate I need to get writing done at the rate I want to get it done, I can worry about what it is that I’ll actually get to work on.

For now, though, the Ubermensch must sleep. Ubermensching for 4 kilometers really takes it out of you.

Great Success

Chatting with my best friend the other day, we were discussing the fact – hopefully more of a truism than an actual fact – that you can either be a good person or a good academic, but not both. Specifically, you can be somebody who treats other people with respect and enjoys your life while losing out on academic achievements, or you can treat everyone around you like shit and force yourself into academic tunnel-vision in order to succeed. Hufflepuff or Slytherin, basically, although we did not put it that way.

And it got me inspired. I’ve been carrying around the infuriating thought that if only I could manage my time more effectively, I could actually get all the things done that I want to get done without having to sacrifice anything I would miss. I wouldn’t have to choose between, say, having an academic career and having a career as a fiction author; I could do both and still have time to socialise. If only I had more discipline. If this sounds familiar to any of you reading, then it may also sound familiar to hear that none of this has come to pass as of yet. I’ve been nudging at the brick wall that is my collection of avoidant, procrastinatory habits, but I have yet to actually bring it down.

But hearing about these miserable over-achiever gave me a goal: to succeed in every area, to get all the academic kudos, write all the shitty YA werewolf novels and get my social life in order; to not succeed by blocking things out, but by letting more things in.

And then to take that multitude of successes and rub it in those shitheads’ faces. The worst thing about shitty people who succeed in some given area is that you can’t even say that their shitty behaviour has been a detriment to them, at least in that field. Just imagining how satisfying it would be to succeed in that same field, even more than them, while also not being a raging asshole is pretty delicious. Though I do wonder if the fact that it seems so appealing to me just makes me an asshole of a different colour, but it’s my power-trip and I’ll frame myself in whatever ideological light I want.

I’m typically not one for doing things out of spite, and I think if spite was the only thing driving me this wouldn’t work. But it really is making me think: if awful people who are kind of miserable and insecure despite their achievements can succeed, surely somebody who is actually happy can not only do just as well as them, but even better, because they’ll have a healthier mindset. It’s a theory. And now, it’s a goal.

So I’m going to finish that goddamn shitty YA werewolf novel, while I’m still tutoring, and also start getting serious about this whole leaving-the-house-and-meeting-people thing. I’m going to ramp up my exercise routine and, I dunno, start keeping a food diary or something, one that I can carry around with me for instant accountability – and instant feedback. Food should be enjoyed, and having food because you’re bored or sad or whatever makes it that much less enjoyable. Academia, art, socialisation, health and fitness: these four elements shall combine to create the foundation upon which I shall ascend to the level of Ubermensch.

Starting tomorrow. It was meant to be today but I just really didn’t feel like it. BUT, I did cook dinner and do some exercise so, y’know, baby steps.

Also I’ve been reading The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell and it is a) incredibly engaging and interesting and b) hella sexist and literally not even about storytelling it’s just psychoanalysis hang on psychoanalysis is all about storytelling so maybe this is a psychology book? But I’m thinking I might review it when I’m done, if I can. I want to do more things with this blog, too, than just ranting about my weird epiphanies and life-changing resolutions that last for about an hour. I want to spend more time considering how I use this blog – to blog with intent, just as I had the resolution to use the internet with intent. I still kind of want to do my internet tour, investigate parts of the internet that I’ve never thought of before and just see what’s out there. I want to do a lot of things.

And so I shall.


It’s Been A While

Anybody else remember Staind?

Anyway I got a job as a tutor at university teaching a paper on COMICS HOW DO JOBS LIKE THIS EXIST THIS IS THE BEST JOB EVER

… which I am going to go do in about 20 minutes.

Before that, though – what’s up? I have not really had anything writing-wise to update about, and honestly it feels good, in retrospect, to know that I didn’t try to force myself to update. When I do that I tend to just veer into the loop of I-didn’t-do-anything-yet-again-but-I-totally-will-in-the-near-future that I abhor so much. And in the end, this is supposed to be a writing blog. Sometimes I write about having nothing to write about, or having not done any work – and sometimes, I have decided, I just won’t blog at all. Because that’s how life is.

What I’ve figured out this year, more than any other, is that writing not only cannot be my be-all-and-end-all justification for living. It also can’t be my go-to activity. Not anymore. To be fair, it hasn’t been for a while now. Which is bad in the sense that WOW has become my go-to activity, but good in the sense that I have gotten some much-needed distance from my writerly tunnel-vision. And as a result, I am much more in-tune with my feelings about writing – specifically, feeling out whether or not I actually want to devote time and energy into writing something into being. It’s not always the case. As you might well have gathered from the fact that I haven’t updated this blog for over a month, it’s definitely not the case right now. But I’m having ideas, and I’m feeling them out to see if they’re ideas that I want to start a story with, which is a big commitment. I’m on the right track, I feel.

The only bit I haven’t quite gotten the hang of yet, which I want to, is the bit where I just “give it a go and see what happens”. I’m doing more of that, but still not as much as I want. I want to be one of those people who just gives it a go and sees what happens. I’m not sure that’s the best reason to do something, but then again, I’m not sure it’s the worst reason either. More to the point, I’m not sure you need a reason, and I think that might be my shortcoming here, trying to give myself a reason to do something that I can just … do. Trying to manage myself, treating myself like a boss and an employee, and weakening myself through the separation. It’s how I’ve lived what feels like the majority of my life. That shit needs to stop.

On the plus side, I have actually been working on my thesis. I’m almost done with this final body chapter; then it’s on to the introduction, conclusion and bibliography before revision begins. Good old revision. In my writing experience, revision is actually the fun part, because you almost get to make something new. It’s when you look at the labour you’ve put in and get to magically transform it into something closer resembling the Work you were trying to accomplish. Pretentious capitalisaiton for the win; I’m a writer.

I’m also a teacher now, though, and while it’s not actually taking up a whole heap of time – that will change once assignments start coming in – it is adding to the collage of identities that I exist in the arrangement of. I like it. I think it suits me. I think that I could suit it a little better, but I’m sure that’s how everyone feels about anything they do. I’m enjoying it a lot. I think it’s good for me.

Writing, I think, will be good for me once I find something that I actually want to write, and then write it. Before that, though, I think writing will still be good for me while I don’t do it, simply because at the moment I have absolutely nothing that I desperately want to write. And I think that’s a practice in and of itself, one that you have to get good at if you want to write healthily.

Or maybe I’m full of shit. But either way, it’s what I’m doing, and it seems to be working. Guess I’ll keep doing it.