Bucking the Trends
Wee Dave turned five, recently, and I’m still not recovered. Small creatures are exhausting, regardless of how many legs they have (Wee Dave only has the two, you’ll all be happy to know), but we herded a ramble of nearing double digits for the natal anniversary shindig. I’m awfully glad that’s only going to happen a couple of times a year. Early to bed for a while, I’m planning. Still, only a couple of minor incidents, and the paint (Mrs. Dave is a courageous woman, let me tell you) stayed almost entirely contained, and off all the clothing, as far as I know.
That was the start of our week, and things don’t look to be slowing down any, either. So I find myself asking my … self, “Dave, buddy, can you do anything to make this all less onerous?” And I cross selling the Wee Horde off the list first, because there’s no way I could get away with it. After a pleasant daydream or two, I start to actually think about what’s coming up in the Dave Schedule – which is like a calendar, but mostly kept in the think meats of my head – and see where I can buck some trends.
No, not grimdark “epic” fantasy, nor waif-fu urban fantasy. Not even Strong Female Characters doing Strong Female-y Things (I confess, I don’t know what that looks like. Holding down a job and being an active parent without trumpeting about things that should be considered baseline for a functional human?) which seems to be all the rage (rage-y rage) today. Still. Always? Anyway, I’m talking about self-care (again. Sorry. Kinda) and thinking about my patterns and habits, and those of my writer friends. You see, I’ve taken to listening to youtube videos on lifestyle and how to improve various and sundry personal metrics. What has been called lifehacks, and has gained quite a lot of baggage around that term.
Here’s the thing, though. We all tend to examine our routines for things we can tweak in order to do better. At least I do. “What if I get up earlier? What about eating less more often? At different times? How about writing in bursts? What about taking more frequent breaks, but putting them on a timer? How about more sleep and less caffeine?” That last is heresy, I know, but it’s also one I’m contemplating.
I’ve been looking into what encourages productivity, and more and more, it seems to be coming down to emotion. Which, for those of us enamored of the exercise of will, and the cool architecture of logic, is vexing. Still, we’re rationalizing apes, and logic is more often used as a prop for beliefs, emotions, and intuitions. Even then, even when we (I) know what we (I) want and how to get it, dredging up the motivation seems well-nigh impossible many days.
So I’m going to make a suggestion. First, get the basics down. Sleep, diet (which is to say nutrition, rather than caloric or nutritional restriction), a modicum of physical activity: get those into your routine in a healthy manner. Then, assuming you’re having trouble with your work – whether that’s a matter of butt-in-chair time, or a specific project, or specifics of that specific project – and do a little digging into the emotional hooks around that spot of difficulty. I’d like to be able to give you an example from my own life, but this is a new thing for me, and I’ll be taking my own advice just as soon as I find an hour to shoe-horn it into. Once you’ve got the sticking point more or less mapped out, see if there’s a way you can attach better, more encouraging emotional responses to whatever’s keeping you from succeeding.
I have done a bit of this. When I recognize I’m getting bored with a passage, I go back to where I wasn’t bored and rewrite from there. Probably the biggest reason I’ve continued to exercise is a matter of finding things I genuinely enjoy doing, and doing them. The base reality is that we do what we want. It has ever been thus, and we can use this to our advantage when it comes to our writing.