Tag: Motivation

A Good Day

(not quite this good day)

There are some days that are awesome, and are often the result of months of work or a genuine commitment to the affairs of a friend, and fill you with both ecstasy and relief; like qualifying for your first continental competition on Football Manager. Equally, other days piss you off and are like a series of nutshots in which all your dreams somehow come crashing down at once, because you failed to do a single important or difficult task; like your first relegation on Football Manager.

But today was neither; it was simply a good day. I sorted some admin-type things at the bank, saw a flat that we might genuinely be interested in renting, and got a reply from an online music magazine about writing for them. None of these things are life-changing, but have the possibility to set up greater things, things like helping to decide on a place to live, or helping me write for a larger and more specific audience than you fine (if not vast) folks.

I’d kinda forgotten the value of good days in this regard. This year has been all peaks and troughs, with new friends mirroring crappy end-of-year results, and streaks of sporting and written projects broken up by months of inaction and replaying inFamous 2. After my useful, but pretty melodramatic, moping on my own inability to produce the best novel ever written by mankind yesterday, I realised that success doesn’t have to be a massive intellectual undertaking, but can be as simple as doing basic, functional adulty things. When you’re in the bubble of academia, or in the midst of endless social engagements, you can become desensitised to seeing the bigger picture or making awesome memories all the time; I know I’ve been. And sure, the day I reset my online banking login details won’t be particularly memorable in a year’s time, but today it helped me stop feeling so uselessly lethargic.

Baby steps, James.

Fear Of Writing

(happily I can attack these posts with no semblance of uneasiness, or forethought)

You may or may not know that I’m writing a novel. Not the novel, a thing I’ve been chugging away at for years and is, in my mind, the best idea I’ve come up with and should only be written once I am suitably experienced and skilled at writing fiction, but another novel. A shorter novel. One that will be the first in a long series, the length of which is as-of-yet-undefined.

But you’ll have immediately noticed a problem in my approach to writing in that first paragraph, that I can only try to write things when I’m good enough at writing. Basically, and pretentiously, I think the idea behind my novel is fabulous enough to deserve to be produced well. If a third of a novel is its idea, a third is its written content, and a third is its editing, the last two thirds are technical skills, as opposed to creative sparks, that can be trained. I don’t think I have trained those last two enough to do the creative spark justice. As well as this mindset being insanely narcissistic – ‘only a genius could aptly verbalise my ideas!’ scoffs my writer’s subconscious – it’s practically problematic, that it dissuades me from writing the things that I enjoy and want to write.

This problem is also growing. I started my current novel precisely to build up my skills in writing and editing in preparation for the novel, but have come to respect this novel’s story and characters so much that I feel ill-equipped to produce even this one, and will ned a further sub-project to prepare me for the first sub-project. This is also the reason I failed NaNoWriMo last year, not a lack of time or ideas, but a dissatisfaction with my own skill in relation to the idea I was verbalising with that skill. If NaNoWriMo is the epitome of fast-scrawling, quality-backseating writing fun, where the emphasis is solely on the act of writing, and I can’t even give up my pretentious ideas for that, how in the Hell am I supposed to write a proper novel?

As with most problems, the solution is a Nike cock-sucking ‘just do it’. To be more comfortable writing, I need to write; to be better at writing so as to lose this nagging feeling of inadequacy, I need to write; to have experience in actually knowing what is good and bad writing, instead of just assuming I suck, I need to write.

So I’m going to say this now, and I expect you lot to pester me about this as the Summer progresses – I’m going to finish this novel by the time I go back to uni in September. Written, edited, and completed as much as I can without, like, a proper editor or publisher telling me how to do it. I need to write. So I’ll write.

I’m Not Weary Of Life Yet

(hopefully that ‘yet’ isn’t actually necessary)

I was talking to a friend a few years older than me the other week, and they sighed ‘at last it’s Friday!’, or words to that effect. I brushed this off without thinking about it at first but, now that it’s Friday once more, am thinking about it again, and have realised that your early twenties are probably way too early to be wishing for the end of a week. Now, my friend might have just been making small talk, but if they’re genuinely happy that it’s a particular day of the week, one probably with few or a decreasing number of classes, their life might not be going as well as it could be – they’re approaching the prime of their life, with all the freedom of an adult but all the lack of responsibility of a child, and relaxation and enjoyment comes from a break from their degree and the work they choose to do, rather than from engaging with this work itself, or even finding a hobby to engage with?

When I hear older people – people of my parents’ generation, usually – find comfort in the end of the week and the end of work, it bothers me less; often such people are parents themselves, and spend their time looking after children instead of developing their own interests and hobbies, or are simply feeling the strain of living through several decades on this crappy rock we’re doomed to call home. But if you’re weary of life, and seeking solace in the arbitrary progression of a calendar, at a relatively young age, things might need improving.

I’m hardly a perfect person, but I inevitably compared this ‘yay Friday’ mindset to my own relationship with time, namely that I have no idea what day it is, and often what time it is, at any given point. I know that not absolutely everything I do is fun and worthwhile – the three lectures I have on Monday are a bit of a slog to get through – but I approach the different things I have to do on each day as a different way to find something fun to do, rather than dismiss whole days as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and sit impatiently waiting for the designated ‘good’ days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday to roll into my life. This is made easy by the fact that my degree is great fun, so the three days where I have classes are rendered at least tolerable; and the great people I know, which can make even shitty experiences better; and the bajillion societies and clubs I’m in that have turned my life into a relentless stream of cool activities, where there’s no real time to sit and long for what might happen in the future, or look back on embarrassing or sad things to have happened in the past.

But I don’t know; I’m nowhere near experienced or intelligent enough to make meaningful comments on life and growing up or whatever – so I try not to think about my life, I just do things in it.

Only Ninety-Four Days

(I’m a complete and utter failure)

So WordPress, after being slagged off in yesterday’s post by the epitome of wrath that is me writing at one in the morning, have now come back and made a nice little scrolly slideshow about all the things I’ve done on this site this year, complete with upload-based fireworks, sexy maps, and the mind-blowing titbit that I’ve had enough viewers on this blog this last year to fill up the Sydney Opera House. Three times. I’m sorry, what?

And all this makes me feel bad for having a go at WordPress like I did yesterday, a bit like having a one-sided fight with a long-term partner, only to realise a few days later that they had actually baked you a cake that day, which was why they weren’t answering your calls because they were at home and didn’t want to get flour and icing sugar on the landline you both use, and why they barred you from entering the kitchen for a whole day, so you had to get a KFC for tea and eat it by yourself on your bed and feel depressed and isolated, but really they did care all along and were just building up to a greater act of caring-ness, that you presumptuously assumed was a total absence of affection, making you a bit of a bastard really.

Or is that just me?

Either way, there was one stat that stuck out at me as being particularly discouraging, that my longest streak was a mere 94 days of posts, from January 1st to April 3rd; excuse me, but out of the 365 days in this year, I’ve been able two write continuously for less than a third of that? What kind of pussy-ass water jutsu blog am I operating here? I’m fully aware of my limitations as a writer – I can’t write dialogue for shit, I struggle to detail scenes that I myself find disturbing so often skip over the events with the most heartstring-yanking potential in my stories, I’m not very good at alternating between the two levels of narration I like to use, a close-up, play-by-play style focusing on individual characters versus a broader, more society-defining omniscient viewpoint, and I really have difficulty creating characters who aren’t basically gay, female, or black versions of me, tracksuit trousers and all – but I like to think that if I can do one thing rather well it’s write regularly. But the numbers don’t lie, and I would appear to suck at the one thing this blog explicitly sets out to do – be updated daily – and the one aspect of my writing I feel confident in saying ‘I’m okay at that.’

Returning to the cake analogy from earlier, this is like a second twist in which the cake turns out to be a combination of mud, greek yoghurt and the decomposing remains of Jimmy Saville’s twisted, grinning face, so you go back to hating your partner (and perhaps fearing for their sanity somewhat). But I can’t do the same thing; I can’t sit here and blame WordPress for simply presenting me with this information, the fault lies with me for not making good on my intention to write more often. I’ve often said on this blog, and it might even be on the About Me page to this day, that I’ll write this blog on a daily basis, real-life allowing, but I’m realising that that qualifier might be the origin of this year’s pussy-assed-ness; over the last five days, I’ve written a short story, and a blog post, while balancing making a run to the AFC Championship game on Madden, and ploughing 36 hours into Civilisation V, and spending an afternoon with family, going on walks, getting a haircut, and celebrating Christmas frakking Day in the process! I know that when I get back to uni, I’ll have more things to do, and more engaging, exhausting things because they’ll probably involve more people and general assemblies and seminars and God knows what else, but if I can manage these few days, I don’t see why I can’t manage daily blogging for much longer than 94 days.

I think I’ll use the rest of my Twelve Stories Of Christmas plan to test this theory; in my mind, for the convenient purposes of this system, a day spent writing 5,000 words, going for a walk, reading Empire State and playing Civilisation should be about equivalent in time spent to a day at uni, involving three hours of lectures, reading some Wordsworth, going to handball training (or whatever;s on that night) and a few hours of unspecified youthful hanging-outery. So if I can finish these next seven stories, I should be able to continue plugging up your Facebook feed with my bullshit until approximately the end of time.

Isn’t that wonderful for all parties involved?

I Keep Putting Stuff Off

(and it’s pissing me off)

I’ve not ordered my Christmas presents yet (yes ‘mine’ – I’ve got all the things I plan to give to other people because I care more about them than I do myself), and it’s literally six hours until the day itself; I’ve also not got any repeat prescriptions from my new GP, despite moving out four months ago, so I’m rapidly burning through the reserves I have left at home; and actually reading The Prelude for my course has been at the top of my ‘to do’ list for the last seven thousand consecutive days.

And I’m worried this is a result of the new, make-shit-up-as-I-go routine I’m sticking to now that I’m at uni and everything; I used to stay on top of obligations, mostly work but a crap-ton of extra-curricular shenanigans too, and take pleasure in getting them done quickly, so I could move on with my important life of playing Madden and marathoning season four of Game of Thrones. But now I just skip to those fun bits and ignore the, usually medical, things I need to do.

Amusingly, I end up getting all of these things done at one point or another, normally like five months after I first decide to do them, so there was no point in worrying about doing them early in the first place. Of course, this doesn’t stop me worrying about them, or writing a blog post about worrying about them, or even worrying about writing a blog post about writing about worrying about them, which is exactly what I’ve been doing for the last hour while listening to The Misfits.

But whatever, it’s Boxing Day Eve Eve; I’m gonna procrastinate a bit longer and go get a McDonald’s.

‘Twas The Night Before NaNo

(does this count as a poem? I think it counts as a poem)

‘Twas the night before NaNo, when all over the lands
Not a teenager was writing, or even old hands.
The Word docs were opened, all character sheets filled,
Even the annoying side character’s, who we all knew would be killed.

The writers were nestled on WordPress and Tumblr,
With Kristina’s NaNoWriMo song on the Last.fm Scrobbler.
And my mate finishing their novel, and mine fresh from my mind,
We readied our brains for the upcoming grind.

When deep in my mind a lightbulb flicked on,
And I sat bolt upright ‘fore the idea could be gone.
Away to my notebook I scurried with ink,
Tore open the cover, and before I could think

I’d invented a character, and this newly-formed fellow
Gave my novel a love-triangle, and was sombre and mellow.
When, what to my procrastinating eyes should appear,
But another novel’s summary, and a snazzy character.

With the same quiet demeanour, so subtle, so cool,
I knew in a moment my guy was some knocked-off tool.
More rapid than Blessed my own curses came,
And I whistled, and shouted, and called that author by name!

“Screw you, JKRowlingOnFloorLaughing!
Screw you and your novel, Rivals I’m Passing!
Fling yourself from the porch! From the top of the wall!
And take your stupid character with you to the fall!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So out of my windows my plans and books flew,
With my USB of rough drafts, nearly my MacBook too.

And then, in an email, that arrived with a ding,
More news to disallow my muse to sing.
I drew my head into my hands, and was headdesking away,
My tutor told me to redo an essay, due in 30 days.

The mail was dressed up in compliments, with a tone that did ask,
But its voice was tarnished with this “voluntary” task.
A bundle of further reading it had flung as attachments,
And I looked like a philistine, not understanding this harassment.

But my eyes – how they twinkled! My smile how sardonic!
My teeth bared like a vampire, my fingers like icepicks!
My tight little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the teenage “beard” of my chin was cold as the snow.

The remains of my chewing gum I stuck in my teeth,
The scent of berry enveloped me to my feet.
I had a big screen, enough for two sheets of paper,
So I put essay alongside novel, and started the former!

I’ll get chubby and plump, and be an illiterate wreck,
I won’t shower in days, then wonder why I won’t get much sex.
But with a crack of the knuckles and a crick in my neck,
I know I can do this, there’s nothing to dread!

And as midnight approached, and I stopped my work,
Half the essay was done, still October 31st!
And laying a pillow underneath my head,
And setting an alarm, I’m happily going to bed.

Tomorrow I’ll spring from my duvet, to my friends give a tweet,
And together we’ll write, whether busy or feeling shit.
Even if our characters suck, and our plots aren’t very fun,
We’ll be novelists come December, when NaNo will be won.

I Have Been Uninspired All Day

(well, at least the bits of it I’ve been awake for)

This is perhaps my fourth go at writing a post today, and unlike days where I write four posts, but only publish one because the other three were not funny, inappropriate or just stupid, I’ve opened the ‘Add New’ tab four times, and sat gawking at a blank screen for fifteen minutes before going to have a nap.

This is especially problematic considering I need to write an essay tonight; it’s not due for a week, but in the next few days I have: lectures, a YouTube Society pub quiz, a magazine meeting, Dodgeball training, Football, a friend’s birthday party, Karate, and a trip away to some lodge in the middle of nowhere for God knows what reason, so it’s likely I’ll have to pull an all-nighter to get through an essay that’s not due for seven bloody days. I’ve banged my head against the (near-literal) wall to the tune of a thousand disjointed words, and that took two and a half hours.

First I questioned my motivation for both blogging and essay-writing, the lack of which is a far scarier prospect than mere writers’ block; I feared that I had lost my interest in both these things, as uni magazines and publications become a way of getting my writing seen by more people than is possible with a single blog that I link to on my Facebook wall every day like a whore, and my focus on societies, NaNoWriMo, my diet and weighing up the costs and benefits of buying more underpants to reduce the need to do laundry means I’m basically getting into every aspect of university life apart from the degree itself.

But this isn’t the case; I still wanted to blog and write that essay, even if it was difficult to do so. Also, I’m about to do a new thing with WordPress (more details when I can be bothered to talk about them), and I’m four weeks into a course I’ve spent three years or so single-mindedly working towards, so I don’t think I’d really be up for throwing in either towel any time soon.

The problem, therefore, is inspiration, a more short-term and superficial problem; simply put, I want to write stuff, but can’t get ideas flowing. It’s annoying that this has happened on my designated essay-writing day, and is a fairly inevitable risk you run while writing more blog posts than there are people without ebola in the world (apparently). There are two solutions to this problem too: go to sleep and try again the next day (the sort of hit-and-miss approach that works when you don’t have exactly zero hours to complete a task), or push on regardless, spout three thousands words consisting largely of garbage, ideas stolen from critics, and misuses of the word ‘sin’, give it in two minutes before the deadline and try to act surprised when you get a crap mark.

Nowadays, I feel compelled to go for the latter, so I’m going to try writing about free will in Paradise Lost now. Yet. Again.