It Doesn’t Count As Resting If You Do All Your Normal Work

Today is a holiday in the US. As is typical of many “ancient” and “traditional” US holidays, it has a bit of a troubled history. But, as a low-end white-collar worker buried in debt and being slowly ground to dust by the cogs of capitalism, I’m going to just enjoy a day off that doesn’t eat up one of my precious days of PTO. I’m also not going to have any kind of blog update beyond this one because I’m tired, I’ve got food to cook for myself, I thought it might be fun to just, you know, rest. I’ll be back with normal blog stuff tomorrow, but the post I wrote to post today is actually going to cover the post I would have written today so expect some additional thoughts on the latest God of War game in another seven days.

Happy New Year, Same As The Old Year

It’s a brand new year! Sort of. Like always, this was written a week ahead of time so expect my actual reflections and thoughts in another week. This is my, uh, pre-reflections, I guess? It’s difficult to think about a new year when the old year is still hanging around and the holidays are still to come. Things don’t feel very “ending” right now, since I’ve been so busy and stressed with work that today is the first day I’ve actually conceptualized what a day in 2022 might look like.

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Some More Pandemic Reflections For You, On This Second Winter Holiday Season

There are few things as dreadful in modern life as going to the grocery store during peak shopping hours. As someone who has taken great efforts to practice safety in this pandemic life we’re all living, I have done my best to ensure that I will not be crowded or around too many people when I must leave the house. As rules and prohibitions have loosened despite the resurgence of illness thanks to the Omnicron variant, I have begun feeling even more anxious about meeting the demands my life as a responsible adult are making of me. Especially now, amidst the holidays and the last-minute shoppers who seem determined to ignore all sense and precaution as they valiantly venture forth to acquire whatever last minute necessities they overlooked.

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Breaking Old Holiday Habits

As this post goes up, I will be in the middle of my winter holiday vacation. My (currently in-progress) celebration of Candlenights will have ended, I will have observed Christmas, and I will be gearing up for a visit from the two biological family members I am still on speaking and visiting terms with. I will be eyeing the approach of New Year’s Eve with some skepticism, not sure if whatever I wind up doing to mark the end of 2021 will be celebrating a new year, celebrating the end of this year, fortifying myself against whatever is coming in 2022 (given, you know, that things have pretty much just gotten steadily worse since 2016), or maybe all three at the same time. Or maybe just the last two, since I’m not sure I can bring myself to hope that 2022 will be better.

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Managing Mental Health Over The Holidays

I need a t-shirt that says “I went outdoors to treat my depression and all I got was this mild tan.” One of the efforts I started last year to combat my feelings of isolation and worsening depression was to make sure that I take daily walks. I didn’t really expect it to solve all my problems, but I did hope that it would have a more marked improvement on my mood and general mental health. The daily walks sure help me make sure I can get my average of six hours of sleep per night, but the emotional benefits of getting daily sunlight or daily fresh air have largely vanished at this point.

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Looking To The Future

I took a weekend off. It was nice to get a chance to rest. Or at least sort of rest since it is me and I still did laundry, Dungeons and Dragons prep, and worked on story ideas in my head. I also spent time cleaning and doing home improvement/winterization projects. I experimented with insulating my windows with plastic, the first time I’ve had to do so since I have been lucky to have good windows and well-insulated apartments in the past, and learned a lot about the struggles inherent in this sort of shit. They look terrible and half of them need to be fixed or entirely replaced, but it’ll be easier going forward since I have some experience now.

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Holiday Reflections

I am at the beginning of a entire week (including two weekends) off of work. The first such week I’ve had since the winter holidays of 2020. I’ve taken the time off to work on some writing projects, rest, and grapple with the issues inherent with navigating the holiday season separate from a toxic family situation. Which, you know, is emotionally fraught enough on it’s own without throwing the holidays into the mix, which is an exponential increase rather than additive or even multiplicative. But I’ve planned some writing projects to keep me busy and engaged, some projects around the house to keep me moving and give me time outside my own head, and enough fun plans to keep me from feeling like I’m not using my time well.

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NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 22 (11/22)

Trying to write during the holidays is difficult. There’s a lot of stuff that comes up that doesn’t normally interfere with your day. It’s really tempting to write off (ha-ha) the entire day, if not the days around it as well. There’s travel from one city to another (sometimes multiple cities if you’re trying to make multiple holiday meals), large meals to consume, time in the kitchens preparing food, time to catch up with relatives you might not have seen since the year before, and the time you need to just lounge around the house after eating before you’re ready to do anything. There are very few days in a year that have any of those things, much less all of them at once. If you do wind up taking the day off of writing or even taking a few days away from writing to visit with family or loved ones, I don’t think anyone could really blame you for that unless they’re a miserly, Scrooge-like loner who begrudges people their families and joy. Those people aren’t worth listening to when it comes to making time for family, so just ignore them.

I’m going to try to get some writing done today. I haven’t missed a day this month, and I’m planning to keep that up for the entire thing if it is physically possible for me to do so. I’m also still behind on my National Novel Writing Month project word count, so I am actually hoping to make up for past days with low word counts. This post doesn’t count, unfortunately, because I wrote it before going to bed. I technically didn’t start it until after midnight because I only just got my daily minimum finished before midnight thanks to driving, eating a large meal, spending time with my family, and trying to be social. I don’t really count that as “today,” though, since I hadn’t gone to sleep. It’s only the next day once you go to sleep. Anything I do before then can still be chalked up to the day I last woke up on. Dozing off sorta counts, but not really. There are rules.

I’m probably going to try to work it in during the morning since I know I’m probably going to be completely useless after dinner. My parents are planning some kind of activity to keep us all engaged together instead of letting us all drift apart to do our own things like we’ve done in years past, so even if I hold back on the food a bit I’ll still be rather more occupied than I would prefer. I plan to take my own advice, of course, and work in some writing sprints here and there, as I need a break from social engagement, but I’d still like to get a few uninterrupted hours of work done at some point. Like I said, I’ve got some catching up to do. I’m about six thousand words behind right now and I’d like to close that gap. If I can get myself to forty thousand by the end of the weekend, I’ll be in a good spot for the last five days of National Novel Writing Month. I can do two thousand words a day, no problem. Which means I’ll have four days to do ten thousand words since I’m at almost thirty thousand as of this morning. I can definitely do two thousand five hundred words a day. Aside from the last couple days when I was falling asleep at my computer, I did over three thousand words a day. Maybe I’ll even get in the groove for a binge and just catch myself all the way up in one day.

A distinct lack of writing binges is an unintended side-effect of my daily writing and blog progress. I no longer go long periods without writing like I used to and that’s almost a requirement for a writing binge. It is difficult to do several thousand words in a single day when you don’t feel like you’re full to bursting with things to write about. I was really hoping to be able to work in a good writing binge sometime this month as my previous daily word count record is ten or twelve thousand (I’ve got it written down somewhere) and I’d like to see how far I can pass it now that my writing speed has taken to major steps up (I’m pretty sure it was ten thousand written in twelve hours of work from a time when my peak writing pace was about a thousand words an hour). Despite having a few days at the beginning of the month with absolutely nothing scheduled, I wasn’t able to focus for long enough to do more than five or six thousand words. Since then, I’ve had a lot of stuff going on that has pretty much filled my days with things to do and even my downtime is filled with anxiety about my grandparents’ health or how I’m going to manage the holidays this year.

As much as I’d love to have one just so I can see how many words I can pump out, I think I’m past the point where binging like that is a good idea. Binging was a big part of the worst burnout and recover cycles I’ve ever done and though I’m not as bad as I used to be, I’m still trying to cut down on those cycles. Steady, daily progress is the best way to move toward a goal and since I’ve gotten that skill under my belt the need I felt for binges to make progress has disappeared. I mean, this will be the first National Novel Writing Month I’ve ever done where I didn’t do in excess of five thousand words on more than on day during the month. I’m pretty sure this is also the first National Novel Writing Month where I haven’t done more than eight thousand words in a day. Even though I’m behind and will need to work harder to still finish in time, I’m still way better off than I usually am since I actually made at least SOME progress every day.

I’m not trying to knock binges. If they work for you and that’s the only way you’re going to get the writing done, keep it up. I still can’t help but think of the quote from one of my college professors that I referenced the other day. If you’re doing your best work in binges, you probably haven’t done much writing aside from as part of a binge. I think this idea is why I’ve been spending so much time thinking about (and writing about) trying to break up writing with time spent relaxing or finding ways to do your writing in a large number of smaller groupings.

Anyway, I hope you have an excellent US Thanksgiving if you celebrate that particular holiday. Otherwise, I hope you have a good day filled with progress toward your goals and manage to avoid burning out as we work our way through the last week or so of the month. Good luck!

 

Daily Prompt

Everyone needs help sometimes. I needed a lot of help coming up with thirty separate writing prompts for all of my National Novel Writing Month blog posts. You might need a little help getting the creative juices flowing on your NaNoWriMo project. We both got off easy because we both relied on internet resources so we could avoid asking other people for help. Today, write a scene where your protagonist has to decide between asking for someone for help or looking for it on the internet. Have them work through the process in their head and show us if it’s a struggle to admit they need help or if they’re more motivated by the convenience of looking things up on the internet.

 

Sharing Inspiration

My favorite Disney movie from recent years is Moana. The music is amazing (Lin-Manuel Miranda helped write some of it), the story is beautiful, and they have really stepped up their animation game. I’ve never seen more realistic water and wetness affects or such detailed hair. That’s one of those things you don’t think about, how difficult it is to animate realistic hair. Cartoons have historially resorted to clumbs of hair that move as a unit but Disney, thanks to Pixar’s help, has made it look almost more real than hair in live action movies (since that never seems to get in people’s faces and, as someone with long hair, I can tell you that one of the defining features of hair is it getting in your face constantly if it is unsecure). The movie is great, it has a high-quality feel-good message, and the music is infectious. Check it out during a break from writing!

 

Helpful Tips

The most distracting thing I own is my phone. I have literally thought “I’m just going to check my messages quick” and then spent an hour browsing imgur or surfing the web. My tip to you today is to take your phone and move it as far away from you as you can get it without leaving your house, flushing it down the toilet, or in any way harming it. If you’re in your room, plug it in to charge. If you’re at a coffee shop, don’t even think about taking it out of your bag or pocket. If it’s an option, leave it in your car for a while. Sure, there’s a chance someone will call you about something important its a really low chance and your productivity is more important right now. If you’re concerned about a call that might come, have a friend you trust change your password so you can’t just open it until you’ve finished your writing. Maybe just turn it off for a while and check it every hour. You’ve got a lot of ways to remove it from your immediate physical vicinity and I recommend you try them all until you find one that works. You’d be surprised how much your productivity increases.