It went pretty well, actually.
I did not end up turning off my laptop, sadly, but there are just not many places in the house where I can both focus and have all my stuff ready to hand. Also didn’t get any drawing done, which is a shame.
However, I got a lot of important stuff done, so I don’t think it was a huge failure or anything. In fact, I’d call it a very well-needed and long overdue step in the right direction, and one that I do think I can keep up going forward. This is what I want my “day on” to look like when I take it, and I do think I need to actually have a proper weekend for it, not just one day. Make my weekends a little bit of a workshop for recreation and soul-searching.
Because I like soul-searching. I used to do a lot more of it, in my teen years; true, I also had a lot of horribly toxic habits in my teen years and the amount of introspection I did only served to make them more malignant in a lot of cases, but I’m past a lot of that shit now, and this is less introspection than it is data-collection and analysis. I identified some really key things, most of which I already “knew” but, let me tell ya, it makes a difference to actually sit down and work through it on paper:
- I gravitate towards ideas that put a twist on some kind of established status quo, whether that is an external status quo like the tropes of a genre, or an internal status quo like my own tastes
- I get excited when an idea answers an unasked but obvious question (for instance, in UF: why the “masquerade”?), generally in a way that does not reinforce the status quo (it is kind of stupid, how about we just get rid of it) (it’s not an original concept but you get the idea)
- I get discouraged when things don’t immediately look/feel the way I want them to (often not having done enough research to make the world/characters/situations feel “authentic”)
- Restrictions are great but also suck (can foster creativity, but can also make it feel like I’m obligated to include certain things that just don’t matter to me for the sake of things “making sense”)
- I am a huge perfectionist and it needs to stop
Those are the main ones I’m taking away from my results so far; this will be an ongoing process because I can tell I’m only scratching the surface. It’s also ended up killing several birds with one stone, because in doing this I’ve (obviously) gone back and revisited some of my old ideas, like I wanted to a week or two ago, and lo and behold I actually do want to go back to them – especially after seeing that my reasons for not following through with them are almost unbelievably inane and pedantic. Pedantry, it seems, is my Achilles’ Heel.
And there are patterns, and that’s great. I am interested in what works, but also really interested in what doesn’t work, and what doesn’t work for me seems to be the aforementioned lack of immediate gratification, but the perfectionism thing – it’s just so weird. Like, I’ll have the idea, and it’ll be a pretty clear idea, and then once I start thinking about doing it “for real” my parameters shift suddenly, and instead of it being about me doing this cool thing I thought of it’s about “getting it right”, not for me but for some other consideration that comes up only after I’ve started, which sucks all the life out of it.
Basically, I shift my own goalposts, and if you’ve ever had that done to you by somebody else you know how shitty that is, so imagine how shitty it is to discover that you’ve been doing it to yourself for years as well. Of all the things I’ve identified about my process today, this is probably the most significant: I sabotage myself, constantly, by shifting the goalpost in terms of what I am trying to get done.
There’s obvious merit to the idea of adapting your plans if you have new information that changes the context of those plans, but for me there really hasn’t been that. It’s just been my own bad, unhealthy, self-hating habits, not allowing myself to follow through in the ways that I want once I get started, basically giving myself false advertising. “Hey, here’s a cool idea you can work on!” “really? yay, let me devote time to doing it!” “great, now that you’re here you’re actually going to do this other thing, because really the first thing was stupid don’t you think it was stupid, and also made you a bad person?” “I mean, I don’t want to be a bad person, but that really makes me not want to do this anymore” “that’s okay, it just means you’ll be a failure for life and never accomplish anything because of your lack of discipline and deserve to die of shame!”
It’s actually really gross, and I had no idea how gross it was, the way I’ve been treating myself all these years, until right now. So yes, today has been a good, valuable, health-improving day. In short, the lesson I have learnt is that I need to be aware of the way in which I kill my own momentum by insisting that what I do is dictated by some kind of arbitrary “need”, instead of the initial “want” that got me all excited to do it in the first place. And I need to stick with that “want”, commit to it, do right by it, in the hopes that, in time, my perfectionist goal-shifting inner demons will shrivel up and die from lack of sustenance – or that I’ll just get good at ignoring them.
And on that note, I have a few old projects that I want to start getting back to. As for drawing – that’s why I need a weekend, I have decided. I want a nice, cosy stretch of time to get all my shit done, and one day is not enough for that. A Weekend On. That sounds good. If it’s anything like today has been, it will be.
And it was enough of a detox to make me feel a lot better, rejuvenated and refreshed, even with the laptop. But I am looking forward to trying it without the laptop next weekend. It will be good.
So sayeth the Ubermensch! (yes, that is coming back)