No Fun February

Post-mortem on No Fun January: Partial success, with scatterings of brilliance, winds mild out of the north-east with light rain coming in with a cold front on Sunday. Ah, I should have been a comedian.

To go a little more in-depth... This blog is neither as structured or polished or interesting as I'd like, but I wanted to follow up on the last one since a few people seemed interested.

No Fun January

It began, as these things tend to do, quite smoothly. I had a good several days of keeping up social media restrictions and a distraction free day without too much trouble. I mean, there were minor slip-ups here and there but nothing major.

Then AGDQ began.

I decided, reasonably I think, that that is something that is meant to be experienced live and which I should be able to participate in and denying it to myself because of a poorly timed personal experiment would be kind of silly. The whole point of a distraction-free month was, after all, to improve my mental state and mood and general sense of self-control, and missing out on AGDQ woulda been a major blow against that. So I made allowances for that, and still got a decent amount of work done on the side. It was unideal, but fine.

There's a thing about slopes, though, is once you set a lil' rock a-sliding, soon you've buried a village and created a minor global response scenario for the Red Cross. What I'm trying to say is things went a bit downhill from there. Come the end of January I was, with minor exceptions, pretty much back to normal routines re: distractions and getting frustrated by them again.

To a certain degree, this was expected. Much as I tried to approach it with enthusiasm and optimism, in my heart of hearts I knew that, like always, there would be a roadblock somewhere along the way that'd stop and stump me, and bring the whole thing screeching to a halt. It is, I think, some sort of law of nature that this will inevitably happen to lofty personal project. But the thing is, life, like video games, isn't about getting a 100% perfect SSS-rank perfect dodge no damage never detected European Extreme stealth run ultra combo on the first go, it's about accepting that you're going to get D- and C-ranks on your first attempts and sticking with it until you finally figure it out enough to start earning consistent A-ranks.

So, yes, the whole thing ended up kinda fizzling out ignominously, but I came away with some lessons and experience and, I hope, a level up in stats and strategy so I can take a better run at it second time around.

Because for a while, it worked! My model for executing the concept wasn't sustainable or flexible enough to stand up to the ordinary chaos of life, but the effects when it was working were excellent and healthy.

Round 2! FIGHT!!!

So, I'm going to take another run at this, a v. 0.2 of the alpha. I'll make some changes to make it more flexible, more able to accomodate the mess of modern life, more sustainable. I entirely expect this to fail by the end of the month as well, but hopefully not as quickly and hopefully yielding more interesting data.

One useful thing I took from this month is I started keeping a journal, a diary. Entirely private, ENTIRELY just for me. As often as possible I try to sit down and write down the events of the day, take down my thoughts. I also try to record my mood, my attitude to the day, whether I've felt happy or stressed. As touchy-feely new age as it sounds, for whatever reason, it helps me process the output of my head. It also helps me offload a lot of the What I Am Thinking Right Now ranting I'd normally do on twitter onto a diary where, often, it is substantially more appropriate.

So I'm going to make that a core part of my daily routine - a post in the morning as I get up, where I discuss with myself my goals and ideas and anxieties for the day, and one for the evening where I recap the day's events. Mind, this is a JOURNAL, not a day planner. It's not an hour-by-hour appointments schedule, and it's not meant for any audience. It gets rambly, self-referential, meandering and unstructured, which is entirely the point. The challenge is to write with no self-consciousness or shame whatsoever, which is difficult but healthy.

Related to that, I've started an activity log. Being a person prone to depression and anxiety, my brain tends to retroactively edit my days to make me think I'm less productive than I am. I have often ended days where I got quite a bit of work done with an overwhelming sense of being an unproductive piece of sh** who couldn't fulfil an obligation to save his life. The activity log helps me document and - more importantly - remember what I've spent any given day doing, and counter my brain's self-loathing tendencies. It also, weirdly, helps motivate me to get things done because it feels better to fill it out with work than anything else.

Next up, some breathing space. For now, I'm going to take Thursdays "off" to game, faff about, catch up on YouTube and otherwise distract myself. I may expand or contract this as circumstances mandate, maybe take the weekends instead. I'm going to make allowances for certain distractions - i.e. esports, because that's what my WORK is about, but also for a very limited pool of things like webcomics. I need to consume art to inspire art, and to move me to change and improve my own artwork.

Social media... is going back on lockdown. Most of the time it's an unproductive distraction, and those times when it is not aren't so time-sensitive that I have to be updating everything live always. That means I stay away from reddit unless I'm submitting something or interacting with comments on my work, I stay away from Twitter unless I'm promoting my work or interacting live with esports, etc. etc.

Lastly, I want to try an experiment in daily comics again. In June last year, I proved that I can do it, and it's less stressful than I think. Since I've got Star Guardians now also to occupy me I should never run out of work to go on. I will, however, let that wait until I've been balancing all of this for a couple of weeks with my newly resumed university work schedule because while it provides a lot of useful stablizing structure, it's also a bit of a heavy burden of work to shift around.