Consistency

A Bowl of Punch

I promise I’m writing tomorrow’s post tonight… I missed today, I missed yesterday. It’s shameful

I have a hard time with consistency. It’s a thing for me. Typically I deal with that by writing well in advance, making sure I have a few weeks queued up, but I got behind while I was doing NaNoWriMo and I’ve been heavily focused on another project for most of December, so I haven’t managed to get caught up.

I don’t know quite where I am with that, how much focus I will have on the blog and the novels between now and January. This other project has to be my main focus until it’s at a certain point, then I will be moving more of my focus back to writing.

Anyway, please bear with me.

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Setbacks

A glass of punch

I missed my post for today. I mean, I’m going to have a post today (at least if you are reading this), however, I did miss my 11:11 release time.

This isn’t a big problem. I mean, I’ll be hitting it tomorrow.

I also got up much, much later than usual. I guess it’s technically a setback. It’s because I had a very good night last night and didn’t want the night to end. It was brilliant.

So, technically a setback, but at the same time, that “setback” gave me a huge boost in terms of my mental state. That is something every single creative needs, and it will really help me for the next little while in terms of bringing energy to my creative work for the next while.

So, a setback? No, not at all.

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The Cost of Depression

A Pier in Lisbon - I want to go back there

This is a personal post, although I’m going to try and stay away from self-indulgent whining as much as possible and instead focus on actions I (and by extension other people in my situation) can take to make things better.

I am depressed. Am I suffering from clinical depression of the sort that you see on TV and in the news? I don’t know. Mostly I feel numb, unmotivated, unable to make myself do things.

Sometimes I discover that half the day has gone by and I’ve watched unending youtube videos. Sometimes I discover that I’m playing Mahjong or solitaire and I have been for two hours, and now it’s almost two AM and I’m still staring at my computer instead of going to bed. Occasionally I’ll realise that I haven’t left my house in a week and that I haven’t talked to other human beings face to face or even on the phone in days, my only interaction with people has been virtual.

I get the feeling that this might not be the healthiest way to deal with the world.

That’s depression, and for a long time, I didn’t realise that. I was oblivious to the problem, thinking that I was just unemotional, that my lack of motivation was laziness and that I should just push through it (there’s some truth to the second part of that – I’ll get back to it). I started therapy earlier this year and discovered that I am in fact depressed. Very, and I have been for a very long time.

On Wednesday I was in a meeting and I started talking about something that happened, I was on the verge of bawling. Not just tears, but full-on collapse. There were some tears, but I sort of kept it together. The meeting was in a professional environment for professional reasons, so I didn’t let that happen, but honestly part of me wishes I had.

Depression hurts my productivity. When I’m in the full grip of it I’m almost completely unable to do anything.

So, that’s the cost, it destroys my life, it leaves me unable to act, unable to relate to the people around me, unable to manage my life. It’s a bitch to deal with.

The next part of what I need to think about is how to fix it.

I’m working through a book on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It’s a workbook and I need to spend a bit more time with it, to take the time to do all of the tasks listed. So far I’ve done most of them, but a couple were larger ones. It’s a very, very good book and I highly recommend it.

So, that’s one path I’m using to fix my depression.

I’m also working on a few specific avenues outside of the book. The first one is screen time. For the last two days, I haven’t let myself be on my phone for a while before bed. That helps with sleep, a lot more than I was thinking it did. I’ve been inclined to insomnia most of my life, but apparently, I’m not too bad right now. Just staying off my phone for an hour before bed has really improved things. That also means being off of my computer. Instead, I write in my journal. I do a quick recap of the day, the things I’m feeling. One downside to that: I have been focusing on the negative things a bit more than I think is healthy, and maybe I should move to the positive (I have one huge negative right now that takes up maybe ninety percent of my non-work thoughts).

In the morning I don’t let myself look at my phone right away. I take a hot shower, then I drop the temperature to frigid, bordering on icy, for fifteen seconds. Then I dry off and work out. After I do exercise I let myself look at my phone. It doesn’t matter how much I want to look at my phone before then, I don’t let myself (and I want to, if I hear a message alert especially – it’s like the possibility of water to a person lost in the desert, but it’s never the one I want to see anyway).

There are rules that I used to have for my house, and I’ve gone back to them. I do dishes every night before bed. I do laundry every Wednesday, I change my sheets every Thursday (I have no idea how often you are supposed to do that, but once a week works for me). I try to sweep every couple of days and mop once a week. The dishes are the big one. If I let them go I feel hopeless. Groceries are also on Thursday.

Those are steps I’m already taking. There’s more that I have planned, but it has to be done like that, piece by piece. Taking on too much means I will manage it for a day or two, then I will falter, then I will fail, then I will fall deeper into depression because I failed.

So, the bits that are planned for the future: More cardio. I have very little cardio in my life right now. My morning exercise is mostly strength based because I enjoy that a great deal more than I like cardio, and it takes up less time. However, I know cardio has a larger effect on my mood. Cardio is what really pushes me into a positive space.

Socialization. I’m isolated right now. It’s my choice, my own doing, but I need to change it. I need to interact with more people, hell, maybe even find a community of people in the real world to interact with. I used to have one, but I let that go… it was a gradual winnowing process, and in the end, I ended up basically alone most of the time. I think a step I can take to fix this is to work at a cafe at least a couple of days a week. That way I’m in a space where other humans exist and I’m able to leave my home, to experience the world.

I’m even considering going out tomorrow, there’s a show that seems like it might be fun. Sure, I’ll be going by myself, but that’s not so bad, right?

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Arrogance and the Self Improvement Movement

A Randomly Occurring Upside Down Cross

I know one of the reasons I don’t get more attention on Medium. I mean, there could be lots of others, but this is one.

What I write on Medium focuses on me. This is because of arrogance.

Not the way you think though. I’m arrogant sometimes, but not about my writing. I’m insecure as hell about my writing, and if I were to say “This is how you should be doing things” I would feel like that was unwarranted arrogance. Instead what I have to offer is honesty. This is what I have tried that worked, this is what I tried that caused me to fall flat on my face.

At least I’m consistent. I read people in the self-improvement sphere, and I find them incredibly arrogant. There are exceptions. Kris Gage strikes me as humble – of course she mostly talks about herself and her relationships.

Yann Girard too. He talks about himself a lot, about what worked for him, and what failed. I haven’t tried out too much of his stuff, but I’m starting to. He’s a decent writer, and I like his approach.

The one that bugs me the most is Benjamin Hardy. Now, I will freely admit that jealousy probably plays a role in that. He’s got a reach that’s in the millions, and he’s clearly done very well for himself while being quite a bit younger than I am… everything about him just seems so smug though. That’s a public persona, and my reaction to it probably stems from the fact that I wish I was in his position. It’s also worth noting that I have found large portions of his advice valuable, even though I have a deep dislike of anyone who treats friendships as units of utility and recommends that you only have friends who benefit you in some way. Also, because I do follow a lot of people who know Benjamin Hardy I hear them talk about him, and they all say good things about him. Maybe he’s actually an incredibly nice guy and I malign him for no reason (okay, probably). I did say honesty was the only thing I had to offer right?

It’s something about sounding like you have the answers that really bugs me. Maybe because I know I don’t have the answers, I know that I’m still trying to find all the right questions, a task that I expect will take me my entire life. Anyway, whatever the cause, I don’t think any of us really have the answers, we just have the answers that have worked for us so far, if we are lucky.

Then again, maybe I don’t like the answers. See, I’m a storyteller. I write because I have these stories in my head that I want to communicate. The answers a lot of folks in the self-improvement community seem to have started with “find out what your audience wants and write that”. I could, but it would destroy the whole reason I’m trying to pursue this career, I’m trying to tell these stories. There is no other elements, just the stories. Sure, I would like telling these stories to be the thing that I do for a living, and I think it’s possible, but if I’m not telling the stories I want to tell I might as well go back to writing software.

Maybe it’s the same for you, maybe you don’t want to be a “success”, maybe you aren’t arrogant enough to think you already have the answers. If that’s the case, please join me, and let’s see if we can come up with a way to do this as storytellers, not “Authorpreneurs”.

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NaNoWriMo Day 25 – Christmas Cheer

About to Die.

I’m very much in the home stretch. My primary villain, the one who’s been manipulating things behind the scenes is finally directly confronting Jenny, my heroine. She’s got the tools, the tricks, the knowledge. All she needs to have is the will. This is more of an issue than one would think, since there is a very, very high price to pay to defeat Manakel, and while she paid part of it already, the greater part is still to come. Also, made my word count goal.

Christmas is near, and today was a bad day. I’m having a glass of rum and eggnog as I write, and listening to the most violent and aggressive music I can find. Right now it’s the Butcher Babies. There was a long stretch of Marilyn Manson and Ministry earlier tonight.

So, I’m getting right into my usual cheery Christmas mood early.

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NaNoWriMo Day 18, 19, 20. Random Life Stuff

Stairs on Citadel Hill

So, I didn’t update for a few days. I also missed my writing goal two days in a row. Once was my birthday, the 19th… I wrote zero words that day. I did, however, cook a very nice dinner for a large number of people.

The 20th I had to drive my son home and hit a snowstorm. By the time I got back I was exhausted. I tried to write but fell asleep multiple times while at the keyboard. Not like I got zero words, a bit over 1300, but still, not great.

Some random notes on life. My girlfriend gave me Eclipse for my birthday. It’s my favourite game, complex but easy to understand and with amazing replayability. I have the best girlfriend!

I’m losing weight. At my high point, I weighed 208. This morning I weighed in at 189.8. Now, weight isn’t that important, especially compared to things like body fat composition. My body fat percentage is going down too. It’s a bit up and down, of course, but overall the trend is downward.

I’m working on posts for December already. I won’t be doing this realtime stuff that causes me to miss days. It will be advance posts, long-form posts. This blog will get back to form.

Someone won the book. I did a draw on my birthday for a signed copy of A Long Walk. The winner happened, I will be informing them directly.

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NaNoWriMo Day 12 and Dropping Stats

A Baby goat

It’s a weird thing, my consistency with this blog has been off a tiny bit since I started doing NaNoWriMo. It’s because I’m trying to update the blog with the info from the day before, so if something interferes with me writing I end up being a little bit late (or a fair bit late).

Anyway, yesterday I made my target plus a few words. 2516 I think. Still haven’t made up for my missed day, but it’s inching closer every day. I get just over my goal and occasionally a fair bit over. If I keep doing that my average will be over 2500 and at the end of the month that’s what matters.

Now, dropping stats. I know consistency is the most important thing for gaining readership. It’s vital. At the same time, I keep being just a bit late, or a few hours late. It seems to be killing my traffic. I’m going from an average daily readership of a hundred and some to seventy some. I need to get back to the consistent schedule.

I’m not sure how feasible that will be in November though. I had a couple of thoughts about it. For example, I could write in advance and then just update my NaNo count when I get it done. Something like that.

Anyway, the book is going incredibly well! I think I might throw a passage from it into the blog post tomorrow, just a quick sampler to show off what my writing is looking like at the moment.

Anyway, it’s a shortish post today, sorry. Other stuff on my mind right now.

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NaNoWriMo Day 8 and music I’m listening to right now

A village by the sea

Day 8. Made my word count. In fact, my average word count (even counting my missed day) is over 2400 words, so I’m in great shape for making my goal. The story is flowing amazingly well. I’ll see at the end if it works out.

Now, music. Today I’m listening to Mars Argo and That Poppy. If you don’t know about them, well, it might be the best performance art on YouTube as well as some decent music (and some terrible music).

In general, if it’s Mars Argo it’s decent music. If it’s That Poppy, it could go either way. For some reason, most of Poppy’s music is very compelling, despite being objectively awful.

Now, it’s much, much stranger than you might think. Both That Poppy and Mars Argo are the products of a very, very strange producer/director/musician named Titanic Sinclair who seems to have masterminded the whole thing as some sort of strange pseudo-conspiracy that he created for entertainment purposes. There are a lot of Illuminati references and bits of imagery, not to mention satanic references. It’s the strangest thing going right now.

Of course, it’s great fuel for creativity, and a lot of the music is genuinely enjoyable.

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Limiting How Far Ahead I Write

A Tunnel

This should post on September 5th, and I’m writing it on August 13th. This isn’t relevant to much, but here’s the thing… if I’m writing that far in advance maybe I need to slow down.

Being three weeks ahead is great, I might even let myself get a full month ahead, but that has to be my limit. Things change in a month, possibly a great deal. If I’m too far ahead I’m not writing about what’s going on, but what was going on a month ago. That’s probably okay, but I find that when I get on a roll I do six or seven posts at once, and that means I can easily get many, many months ahead. Not necessarily a bad thing I guess, but I’m trying to chronicle the reality of my journey as a writer here, and if I’m too far ahead I’m not doing that anymore.

So, I’m limiting myself to one month ahead. Also, there’s the word count thing. If I’m doing six or seven posts, well, I’m writing between two and five hundred words per post. My fiction writing is typically around two thousand words these days (that’s my goal, and I meet it consistently). If I’m doing that many blog posts on top of it I’m writing well above my daily word limit, and maybe that time would be better spent on other things.

I’m going to look at doing this differently, limiting myself to one post unless I’m going to be away for a little while for example. Turn that extra effort to adding word count to fiction or other marketing avenues. Don’t worry, I’ll still do a post a day, and if I won’t be able to write for a little bit I’ll add extra to the blog to make up for it, keep my lead time going.

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Cell Service

Police in Riot Gear

I rely on my cell phone. It’s an essential service for me. I don’t have a landline, so it’s my only phone… but it’s also my alarm clock, a huge portion of my music listening, my primary email client, my calendar, and my shopping list. It’s beyond essential for me.

It’s also several years old at this point, and probably nearing the end of its lifespan.

This is kind of a big deal, because I can’t afford a new one right now, and I don’t want to go on a plan with my cell phone provider.

This morning I had a moment of panic. I looked at my phone and saw that it was showing no service. I knew I didn’t owe any money on it, and also that when your phone is cut off for non-payment it doesn’t look like that (I know this for obvious reasons). So, I thought my phone might have bit the big one finally.

I might be the only person who was relieved to discover it was a region wide outage, with other areas also being affected.

Now, I’m profoundly interested to find out the cause.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I was an employee of Aliant. I did on the phone tech support. We had a region wide outage due to a cyber attack, but that was internet service. This seems to be affecting the towers themselves. I can’t imagine a DDOS would be able to affect them like this (where the phone just can’t see them at all), so it has to be something else. Either someone pulled off a major attack, or bell really, really fucked up. Of course, I’m hearing rumours that it’s affecting AT&T as well. That would seem to point to either some form of shared hardware they use in their towers dying or else an attack.

It has the potential for a good plot. I might use it at some point. Either a science fiction deal or else a thriller/terrorist kind of thing. Would depend on the reason given for the loss of service.

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