Damn You, Netflix.

I haven’t really watched tv in years.

Not in a snobby, pretentious, too-good-for-such-frivolity kind of way, where you tell everyone ever that you don’t watch it in order to sound more interesting and clever. More in the sense that DayJob, which is also sometimes AfternoonJob and even NightJob, hampers any sort of consistent schedule. I’m simply not always home at the same time, so I don’t catch shows with any kind of regularity.

And yes, I know about PVR. And I’m too cheap to buy one.

So, enter Netflix. I’ve wanted it forever, since it neatly solves this little dilemma. We finally cracked about a month ago and set it up.

Oh sweet merciful crap. All those box sets I wanted? Right there. Cheesy, campy horror movies at my beck and call? Ditto. I don’t waste time cursing terrible buffers or trying desperately to stream a show from a website with cramped bandwidth. I press play and it’s there.

Terrible for productivity.

The thing with working on an art career is that you have to cram as much work in as you can, around the confines of day jobs and family and scant nutritional intake. You need to wake up early, or stay up late, chasing your Muses down and pinning them until they squeak out ideas. You need to love your desk, since you’ll be there for hours. That’s the idea, anyway.

But now that my desk is in our living room, the siren song of the bigscreen is almost too much to bear. I have all the Charmed you could ever watch, it says. Come watch Pumpkinhead for the hundredth time. Then the couch gets in on the act, reminding me that I have a wonderfully comfortable pillow and blanket awaiting me, and maybe I could just relax for half an hour.

Which becomes an hour.

Which becomes two.

Lame as it is, it looks like I need to start scheduling blocks of tv watching for myself. Scheduling time and sticking to it. I’m not getting anywhere being tethered to this remote.

But the couch really is comfy. And they have the whole series of Alfred Hitchcock Presents

I think I’m in trouble here.

F-O-C-U-S Spells…Ah, Fuck It.

I’m in one hell of a slump.

I don’t know if it’s the general blue feeling I’ve been experiencing lately, or my propensity to take on WAY more than I can actually handle, but…I’m frozen. I feel like I can’t get anything done. I have a million projects on the go, and rather than focusing on one at a time and seeing it through to completion, I find myself dancing around sticking my fingers into all of them and finishing nothing.

I like to think I’m driven. I like to think I can master this whole discipline thing. But frankly, discipline isn’t all that much fun. It’s easier to waste time on the internet. It’s easier to wait until the perfect moment comes along. It’s easier to blame my lack of productivity on those absent douchebag Muses (who, by the way, are not getting the raise they requested).

But really? It’s me. Of course it is. I’m the one finding excuses. I’m the one wasting time on things that don’t matter. I feel scattered and overwhelmed right now and I’m having a hard time digging myself out of this hole. (Yes, I know I’m being whiny. And yes, I know I don’t have patience for whiners. But I’m not perfect, and it is what it is.)

I know, in my heart of hearts, that the only thing that will fix this is — you guessed it — focus. I need to pick the one thing that’s more important than all those other things and pummel it until it cracks and something wonderful falls out.

Now if I could only figure out what that thing is…

Back to the Grind

Ugh, vacation’s over. I’m back to work tomorrow.

Why is it that time spent at work feels so much longer than time spent…well, doing pretty much anything else?

I’ve always promised myself I wouldn’t post much about DayJob, having read the horror stories of people fired for same, but suffice it to say I am not looking forward to going back. That bit’s no secret.

My solution to stay sane: I’m reading 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and really thinking about ways I can still feel like my creative self while I’m going about my day. I’m not far into the book, but already I’m seeing all kinds of small ways I can get more done.

I bought a new charger for my dead netbook, so step one will be committing to writing at lunch. Tried before, didn’t stick with it, but I’ve reevaluated my priorities and I’m ready to give it another go. Besides, I’ll never get anywhere unless I really push myself.

Step two is nerding it up by self-designing new scheduling inserts for my Filofax. It seems I can’t find any that suit me, and I think I need to visually see where my time is going in order to use it better.

There’s got to be some way to get there.

Writing Game: Race the Commercials

Just a quick game, because I know you don’t have time.

In fact, that’s what this game is for.

Next time you’re watching tv, keep a notebook (or your laptop) nearby. When the commercial break starts, GO. You have 2 minutes and 20 seconds to scribble (or type) like mad. How many words can you get down? Can you write a paragraph? A whole conversation? I’ve read that an hour-long show ends up being only ~40 minutes when you delete the commercials. That’s 20 minutes of time you didn’t think you had.

When your show comes back, your pen goes down. You’re free to completely ignore your story until the next break.

You may find, like I did, that you’d rather work the story than watch the show. And that your 20 minutes of writing just became 40. But if not, you’re still 20 minutes ahead on your story. Congratulations!

Struggling with Time Management

Confession: I have not written nearly as much lately as I should.

I have a four-year fold out calendar in my Filofax meant to track and chart my daily writing output. This should have been a blog post with a photo of how I’ve set that up, but let’s face it: my output lately has been abysmal, and I don’t want you to see it.

I’ve been busy, sure. It feels like I’ve been running from one thing to the next for weeks. Part of it was working the Dreaded Morning Shift, wherein I start work at six and become human around noon. Part of it was crafty little things that (enjoyably) ate up my time. I have new ideas for new stories churning out of my head all the time but…I haven’t actually gotten anywhere with them.

I think I’m stuck, a little, on where I’m taking this series of stories. I knew where I wanted to go when I started, but the author of those plans feels like a different person. I tell myself it will take a lot more time to write a novel-length work. Of course it will. But I’ve been missing that high of publishing a new short every couple of weeks. Instead I’ve passed the honeymoon phase of this bigger project without readying myself for the long-term.

It sucks. It’s a bitch to have so many things pulling at the hem of my skirt and (what seems like) no time to get them all done. If I want to give my BIG PLAN a chance to succeed, I really need to work out a firm schedule for writing. Not just when I feel I’ve got time, because clearly nothing gets done that way.

I’ll be pulling out my well thumbed (but never finished) copy of Getting Things Done tonight. And I’m thinking about using a 24-hour timetable in my planner. Something’s gotta give if this thing is going to go anywhere.

Writers: when do you write?