Fat Habits

While on vacation I acted fat again. I didn’t run, in fact I barely moved at all. Every meal I ate more than I’d ever need because it feels good to be full. I was totally full every night when I went to bed.

I drank more wine and cocktails last week than I have in the last month. We had a bunch of sweet snacks on the counter I took to calling ‘the carb buffet’ and I sampled it often. I drank all the Dr. Pepper I desired.

It was super amazing for a vacation. But now I’m trying to get back into my normal flow of things and I feel off. Mind is blurry and body is slow. Stepped on the scale and its no shocker that I gained weight.

Need to forget these fat habits while they’re still new.

To-Do Debt

Wunderlist has been my to-do application for several months. I like it a lot and my wife has put up with it, so we’ll probably keep using it for the foreseeable future. One feature that I especially make use of is recurring events.

I’m one of those people that uses a full to-do list as motivation to keep the day moving. Left to my own devices I can sit quietly in my chair and let hours float by while I just think. There’s lots of thinking to do. But when I have a full list, it’s a lot less likely I’ll waste my time this way.

The end result is that I add a due date to almost everything in my Wunderlist so that I can stare at the “Today” smart list instead of into my own mind. The other result is that a lot of my recurring events will go red (ie, late) and stay red for great lengths of time.

At the end of the day, a bunch of red tasks still to be done.

For instance, learning to draw is a hobby right now. I want to do a little bit everyday, but it’s much lower priority than finishing my work tasks or chores at home. So it hasn’t happened in almost a week. Mowing the yard is important, but I hate doing it and I’m only willing to bother under the right weather conditions and time. So it will probably stay red all the way up until there’s a jungle in my back yard.

The unfortunate result of these red items is guilt. I can work very hard all day, cross lots of items off my list, and still feel like I’m not getting traction.

At what point do you declare to-do bankruptcy to get rid of all this to-do debt? Answers and any other to-do ideas are welcome in the comments.

Fake Away

A state of flow is always something to be desired. How you get there is a path you’ll need to discover on your own. But perhaps your path will look something like mine.

Put  headphones on to keep the rest of the room out. Turn on some music and put it on loop – something instrumental or maybe an album you’ve heard a million times. Nothing new or interesting that will pull your focus. Keep the volume down lower than you’d expect.

Turn your phone to silent for the next two hours. More if you like, but two hours is a good start. Set all your communication to away.

You’re still there, but you won’t get nearly as many alerts, boops, or pings. It’s fake away.

Next – do just the first one. Just the first email, the first sentence, the first thing that you’re about to do a lot of.

And keep going. Let the flow take you away.  Just fake away.

What You Consume Drives Your Creative Acts

Since it’s near the end of the month, I took a look at my blog stats. My most popular posts are about the webseries Critical Role on Geek and Sundry’s Twitch channel. But you may have noticed something; I haven’t been writing about Critical Role at all recently. You know why? I haven’t been watching. I’m so behind! Anything I could offer is already so well discussed in the community, it’s not really worth touching on.

This got me thinking about a bigger issue. When it comes to your creative output, the way you consume things matters. It’s incredibly hard to dream up a new fantasy world if you’re low on fantasy fuel. Writing a personal blog everyday becomes near impossible when you haven’t left the house for anything but groceries in two weeks. This is the same reason so many prolific authors are also prolific readers.

Think back to when you started blogging (or drawing, or playing the bass guitar, whatever creative outlet you call your own.) You probably had a fair amount of ‘taste’ before you ever started producing your own work. After consuming enough of someone else’s material it’s easier to step back and say “I can do that.”

We need to stay in that groove. Consume enough that it keeps giving you energy to create that next lyric or paint the next stroke. Block out time for consuming the right material just like you’d block out time to do the big work. And feel no shame!

You’ll need to face some reality though. Facebook and Twitter feeds are rarely inspirational unless your goal is “social media digerati.” Consuming the wrong type of media will not push your art, at best it will keep you distracted. Call this sort of consumption what it is: resistance. You are what you eat.

My goal for this blog is for my readers to understand me as my closest friends would. It’s a constant experiment in sharing because even to my close friends I don’t normally share until asked. Looking at my blog as a whole right now, I think it’s clear I could use some quality consuming. The posts I’m most proud of are the book reviews – and that’s on-the-nose the cycle of consume to create. In coming weeks, I hope to make some memories and blog about them in new way. Letting my consumption habits change might also change my blogging for the better.

Writing Bit by Bit

It’s fair to say I underestimated the difficulty of writing campaigns for my Dungeons and Dragons group. Going through a pre-written module was simple enough and it provided a good outline for the sort of information I’d need. Having DM’d that adventure with success, I thought I knew enough about the game to prepare a good story.

Having blogged everyday for 17 weeks straight, I figured I also knew how to write consistently. Inching forward bit by bit in hopes of making something bigger seemed like a habit I already formed.

Between knowing DnD and having a writing habit, I was totally prepared. Boy was I wrong.

Writing in short-form blog posts and publishing them for that quick endorphin rush is so much easier than writing for a long-form project. Sure, it’s still writing a small amount everyday – but making all that little work fit into the puzzle of a larger arc? Ugh, it’s beyond frustrating.

Every little bit that I add to the story is some of the hardest writing I’ve ever done. I sit there tensing up over why I can’t find a way to connect one scene to another. I write up non-player characters, dungeon crawls, and antagonist monologues all to delete them minutes later. Each session is a workout in my mind.

Manticore, a monster our players fought in a recent game
Manticore, a monster our players fought in a recent game

And you couldn’t pay me to stop. Writing for these games has brought how I think of storytelling to a new level. It’s made me appreciate my reading more too. Most importantly, it makes me proud to present my work to my friends at each game. Working through a module, I was playing ‘not to screw it up,’ and now I’m playing to make what’s in my head come to life.

Bit by bit, my writing will get better.