Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Precipice of 2015

2015 is going to be a year of big changes for me. Big changes in little steps. Steps I’ve begun taking to make myself a better writer and a better person.

I took a month off of drinking and it did me some good. More on that in an upcoming post.

I set up an account at Habitrpg.com, a little motivating system that gives me tiny nudges to get shit done sooner rather than later while also providing a handy daily to-do list. It gives you a little character and when you check things off your to-do lists, you gain gold and experience, which you can then use to make your character(who is basically a tiny 8-bit rpg guy) look cool. It probably sounds silly but providing a daily task/to-do list as well as a little goofy character you can improve is actually pretty motivating, at least for myself. Look for more information about it and how it's going in an upcoming blogpost.

I’m setting a year-long writing goal to keep me going day after day, week after week, month after month and set up a spreadsheet to keep track of my word count. I Need to make it a daily habit, do it do it do it. Every day. Start small so I can keep it going. I’m going to wake up at 5 am on the weekdays to give myself that extra time to write. Nanowrimo is great but one month isn't enough if writing is something I want to take seriously.

I started many of these things in the month of December to get used to them but the plan is to fully implement them with the new year. I’m feeling very excited about it. Time management is an incredible skill that I am not very good at, but I think I’m getting better.

What can you expect from me in 2015?

-Weekly blog posts
-Flash fiction at least once/month
-Updates on current projects
-Bad advice about life? and writing
-A serious push into publishing

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Nanowrimo is over and I feel refreshed. I didn’t win but as the great Chuck Wendig said, winning and losing doesn’t matter after Nanowrimo ends. What matters is that you wrote something. It might not be a finished something, it might be a shit-something but you have it. I have 35,000 words that I didn’t before, on a project that I’d sort of written before but remade. It’s not finished, though. I need to finish it.

I debated on whether to actually write this blog post, or whether to continue blogging at all. The question is whether, overall, blogging increases my writing or decreases my writing. The problem is it does both. It forces me to write more content, but takes up time I could spend writing fiction. I decided blogging is better than not blogging. I wrote more in August than I have this past month, and I was blogging then. I think it’s time to get back into it.

Take a note, though. Don’t expect a regular schedule of blog posts until after the new year. I have big plans for the new year.

I’ve noticed I need to make some changes in my life. Actually, I noticed this towards the beginning of November, but being in the midst of novel writing and such, did not write a blog post about it until now. I need to make time in my life to write more. I need to generate better habits, of writing, exercising and generally making better decisions. I need to learn moderation. How does one do these things? Are we not a creation of nature and nurture? Slowly. Ever so slowly, one small step at a time. I believe we can choose to become better versions of ourselves, in fact, we make or don’t make this choice all the time. When you choose to yell at a friend instead of listening to them, when you choose to let a stranger pull out into the street in front of you, just to be nice. Every time we make these decisions, we are being better or worse versions of ourselves...if that makes any sense.

If you want to change, you have to be motivated. You need motivators, reasons to change. That can be other people, that can be your own decisions, but you need reasons to change.It could be an epiphany you have after an experience but simply thinking “I need to change” probably isn’t going to be enough. Why do you need to change? What about your life will this change affect for the better? Who in your life will this change affect for the better? How are you going to deal with old habits and old urges? These are questions you have to consider if you really want to change.

When we don’t have rewards for things we do, it is difficult to do them. When we don’t have people relying on us to do things, we have difficulty doing them. Sometimes we need others to keep us responsible. The more motivators you have for doing a specific thing, the more likely you will do it. Think of a deadline, that’s a pretty powerful motivator. The thing is, it’s hard to self-impose deadlines because we know that we can always give in, we can always put off. We are very good at giving ourselves an extension. So, you might make a deadline to finish a story by the weekend but who is going to call you out if you don’t do it? Who is going to stop you from saying, “well, maybe just another couple of days” or “I’ll finish it next week for sure!” I do this often. I self-identify, fairly accurately I’d say, as a procrastinator.

Procrastinating is bad. It’s a bad habit. Putting off the hard work is almost always a bad decision. A month or so ago, I procrastinated in driving our car the day before vacation, because I wanted to play some silly video games. Unfortunately, it had a battery issue and because I had procrastinated, I needed to get it to the dealer’s in a half hour or so, so they could fix it that day. Because we were going to use the car for a vacation trip the next day, this was a problem and could have made things very difficult. Thankfully, I got lucky and a mechanics a block down jumped the car for five bucks and I managed to get it to the dealer in time. Things worked out but I still think about it, how my procrastination very nearly led to difficulties and how easy it would’ve been if I’d done it first thing. After that, I feel it’s a very good skill to get your shit done first, then enjoy time off. Don’t put shit off just because you have time, because you don’t know what’s going to happen and you might not have as much time as you thought. Shit happens. Plan for it. Procrastination, unfortunately, is a tough habit to break.

I have noticed one thing, though. If I write out a to-do list and I get it done first thing on a Saturday, I feel fantastic the rest of the day. I feel like I succeeded, like I accomplished something. It’s a great feeling. Much better than the feelings I get when I push off stuff to another day and feel like I wasted a bunch of free time goofing off. I’m not saying goofing off is bad! It’s not! But it feels so much better when you don’t have things hanging over your head.

Speaking of changes, I recently stopped drinking alcohol for a month. It cleared my head a little, and I think it’s good practice to take a break from vices every once in awhile. Realize you can live without it, you can have fun without it, and it sort of loses its power over you. I think a more in-depth blog on the month will come in the near future. I’m very glad I did it.

I’m trying to become more productive and less of a procrastinator. I’m using tools like to-do lists such as Wunderlist and productivity apps like Habitrpg which gives you little silly rewards for completing daily tasks to start and continue good habits. I’m dipping into it this December, but plan to really delve into production in the new year. I’m talking blog posts weekly, fiction writing daily, and generally getting shit done.

In closing,

Do Shit First, Ask Questions Later.