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Gank's Log


gankylosaurus
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One upside of being sick is that you have good reason to stay in bed and read.  That's what I've been doing when I haven't been feeling well.  I get to learn so good stuff, be entertain, and reading helps me to relax and fall asleep!

With all your newfound knowledge from reading, you'll be able to much more effective in life once you feel better!

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So it's been a week since I last posted. I feel better. Your estimate was good there, Tom :P 

Anyway, I've realized that there's one big drawback to doing these journal entries daily. I have to spend a half hour or so on each, and I can't always think of something good to write about. Plus, there's the issue of waiting around for replies, which I begin to obsess over.

I should admit that I played a game the other night. Though it still falls within the parameters of my challenge, because it was at a friend's house. We had several people over to play, so I was like, hey, a multiplayer game, that works. Unfortunately, we learned too late that local multiplayer had been disabled for this particular entry in the series. Bummer. We did some solo online stuff and I only played a little bit. Mainly, I was just hanging out with friends. It also wasn't my kind of game or a game that I'd get hooked on. I seriously had to think for a long time about whether or not I would even go over, and I feel okay about my decision. The alternative was staying home and watching a movie.

I've been reading a lot more, and it's getting more comfortable. Several years ago when I realized I didn't read as much as I should as a writer, I got good about turning off the computer, leaving the room, and reading for a while. I tried to do a 50 book challenge at some point but only got to 25 or so. I moved in April of that year, and where I moved turned out to not be all that conducive to reading at the time. Now I'm getting back into the mindset I had before, reading for hours on end.

But I have a problem when it comes to reading. Blame it on finding a few books that have hooked me and held onto me until the end where I instantly wanted to re-read them. Not all books do that for me, and it makes reading a slog at times. I rarely don't finish a book, and I have to have a good reason to put a book down for good - like it has to be really shitty. It's happened once in recent memory. But other books just take a little while to hook me. Sometimes it doesn't catch me until somewhere around the middle, like The Shining and The Picture of Dorian Gray, both of which I finished recently.

And what that above problem also leads to is reading multiple books at a time. Sometimes, when I'm reading a really long book (like Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time books) I'll take a break to read a shorter book, then get back to the longer one. It breaks it up, because I get annoyed sticking with something super long sometimes. It's why I won't instantly read the next book in a series before reading something in between - what I call a palate cleanser.

Instead, I ended up simultaneously reading The Shining, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Blightborn, Divergent, Furies of Calderon, and Pillars of the Earth. In addition to various books on writing.

Like I said, I finished the first two of those. I'm working on Furies, now. I even picked up a book after Dorian Gray and finished it in a couple days. It's become a problem. I used to say that it's like keeping up with multiple TV series at once, but now I'm finding that it just leads to reading a lot of books that take forever to finish.

So, yeah, that's a general update of things. It's been over a month since I started this challenge and it's had its ups and downs. In lieu of a blog post today, I'll go ahead and share a post I did for NaNoWriMo on my normal blog.

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Internet. Video games. TV. Movies. Youtube. Porn.

I wish these things didn't exist sometimes. They're easy to get hooked on, and spend hours on. But the shitty thing is, they're all external, and I can't use them as real excuses.

I can turn off all of these things and go do something else. And for the most part, I'm pretty capable of doing just that.

But when I become weak, I start to shift the blame to one of these things that only exist outside of and separate from me. They're scapegoats with no feelings that we can point the finger at and say "It's not my fault. It's the fault of all these tempting shiny things."

Plus, I can't say I hate these things for the most part. If I didn't have a Chromebook it might be a little different, though, because I need Google Docs to do most of my writing. I can't stand sitting at my desktop typing on Scrivener for a long period of time. One day I'll get a real laptop and I'll be able to turn off the Internet more easily.

For now, though, I just need to develop some self-control.

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Thanks, Cam. I'll keep that book in mind.

So, I got an itch today to look into going back to school. At first I thought about going back for a computer sciences/IT degree, but I decided against it because so many of the classes didn't line up with what I already have on my transcript. Plus, I can just learn programming on my own and go freelance. I thought about getting into computer repair because I already know a lot about that - things you have to learn when you build and rebuild your computer every few years - but that requires a degree. Can't just walk in there and be like, "Look what I can do! Hire me!" and expect a job.

Though to be fair I haven't tried that approach.

Instead, I looked into getting a Journalism and Mass Communications degree. It looks like fun, it's right up my alley, and I only need 40 credits to completed it. I can do it in three full semesters.

Plus, because of my age and income level, I'm still eligible for the Pell Grant. Soooo I essentially get paid to go to school. But that grant will also help me pay off my loan, which is ironic.

I've been waiting for my fiance to get a job with her real degree so I can figure out where we're going to end up before I get my Bachelor's, but she supports me in this decision and is okay with being here another year and a half. Plus, her internship is going well, and that seems like it could turn into a real job in time.

Also, I just need to start taking risks from time to time. No more living in complacent comfort, doing nothing and getting nowhere.

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The Wily Ways of Instant Gratification

When I played video games, the biggest rush was leveling up. Sometimes it took a little time, but with each EXP bar that got filled I was rewarded with fanfare, and sometimes new abilities.

And there's a certain science behind the way video games do this. At early levels, the levels come easy, getting you hooked on the dopamine release of every new advancement. But they can't keep the leveling easy, or else the rush would deplete in intensity. So with each level-up, it takes a little more work and a little more time to advance further. The need to feel that same rush again retains the same power, and sometimes might even become more intense (especially, I've found, when you discover a new way to level up faster).

Welcome to the science of addiction.

Anyway, I've been able to see more easily lately where this need for instant gratification has seeped into other areas of my life. It's prevented me from saving up money and from completing projects.

In Walter Mischel's Marshmallow Test, I probably would have been the kid who ate the marshmallow right away, rather than wait for the second. Because I've gotten to a point of needing immediate satisfaction.

I'm not saying that video games caused this in me, but they may have amplified something that was already in me. Video games made every little event feel like a success, like I was moving forward and accomplishing something. Not to mention the fact that I felt in control, something that doesn't come easily in life.

Do you know how hard it is to accomplish things in real life? You have to go to school for years before you can have a decent chance at finding a good job. You can't do P90X for a week and expect to see real results. There are no magic bullets to solve all your problems, either.

And that last point is the most problematic. When I look at a problem, I suddenly find myself lamenting that there's no easy way to do it, and that there are so many things I could have done in the past which would have made the present easier. But I also realize that all I have to do is sit down (or go outside) and do shit. Over time, it will get easier, and I will improve.

I mentioned before that running really taught me this, although I haven't gotten back into that since recovering from the one-two punch of crippling back spasms followed by my biannual changing of the seasons cold. I was doing Couch to 5K, a nine-week program. And I was on week 8 when the back spasms hit. It had been going well, but only because I had worked at it three days a week. I had come to enjoy it.

That same principle can be applied to so many other areas of my life. Writing, reading, learning new skills, going back to school for a real degree.

But what do I do instead? I go online. I watch Youtube. I waste hours and then I look back on those hours thinking of all the other things I could have gotten done. Two hours of Youtube could have been time spent writing my pre-planning notes and getting a whole chapter written. And then if I had time, I could have gone to watch Youtube feeling accomplished, not feeling any of the guilt that usually comes from not writing.

Because the rush I get from watching videos online is easy to achieve. Watch one five to fifteen minute video, then what's one more? They're like french fries. "I'll just have one" is not an option.

I look at other people who are more successful, who do yardwork and housework throughout the day. They get their homework done, go to work, get in a workout. And then, if they have time, they can sit down with a beer and watch a movie. Because they had a successful day, they don't have to stop and think about all the things that didn't get done.

I need to rewire myself to think that way. I keep looking back to exactly a year ago when I wrote down my plans every day and got a lot of shit done. I felt successful. I won NaNoWriMo and got straight-A's that semester.

I got up early in the morning to start getting things done immediately. I couldn't do any of the things I wanted to do until all of my chores were done. Actually, that's kind of a lie. I gave myself an hour in the morning to catch up on things and have my coffee and cereal. It's a process Chris Fox calls "clearing the decks." The idea is to get out of the way all those things that are going to be on your mind while you're working on other things.

Right now I'm backwards. I wake up and instantly turn on my laptop to get caught up on the Internet. But instead of a single, pre-planned, guilt-free hour, I spend hours sometimes. Then I have to clean, shower, and go to work. And come time when my girlfriend comes home and wants to spend time with me (not that I don't want to, mind you) I realize that I don't have time left to read or write. All that time I spent goofing off in the morning could have been better spent.

I have my notebook out in front of me now. I've written in it: Write 2,000 words, schedule meeting with school counselor, clean, and write tomorrow's goals.

That last one's important. It's a lot harder to make the day's plans in the morning than it is the night before. If I do it the night before, it feels like someone's giving me jobs to do throughout the day. If I do it in the morning, I start planning excuses for myself, not to mention the fact that I'll put off even writing down my goals until later in the day, and that's a whole 'nother problem.

Also, I used to add reading to this list, but that's actually become more of a time-waster than I expected it would. It's replaced gaming, in some ways, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I shouldn't use it as an excuse to put off other things just because it's technically productive.

I'm thinking of creating some kind of point system. Not like Habitica, exactly, because I think that program ultimately doesn't work well for people trying to build habits. But rather, based on the difficulty of the goal, I could unlock daily perks for myself.

At least then I'd be filling some of my brain's need for instant gratification, by tricking myself into working for it. Then again, gamification hasn't really worked for me in the past, so I may just have to re-adopt the mentality I had a year ago. Hell, I became so productive that I made my girlfriend who was taking 18 credits in school feel lazy. And that's an accomplishment.

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Okay, so, I love my girlfriend to death, but our at-home goals kinda clash sometimes, and I need to come up with a plan for everyone to be happiest.

Yesterday was double-up day for NaNoWriMo, and I was going to write the hell out of my story. I'm a bit behind this year (though that's not really a big deal, as I learned last year) so I was hoping to get a leg up while my girlfriend was at work. We have a tiny apartment, so my "work area" is the dining room table, which is right next to the TV.

Unfortunately, she had to call in sick to work. Of course, I don't blame her. She can't control it, and I did what I could for her, getting ginger ale and cooking chicken noodle soup and all that. But the TV ended up being on for a loooong time yesterday. Two episodes of America's Next Top Model, three of American Horror Story, one of Scream Queens, the entirety of The Shining, an episode of The Late Show, and there may have been more in there that I forgot. But all told, that list of shows comes out to about seven hours if my math is right.

Lucky for me, I have some pretty nice headphones, so when AHS was on (because I don't like the current season) I was able to listen to loud music and hammer out about 2,800 words. I also managed to get some cleaning done and rearrange the bookshelves, which had been bugging me.

But if I'd had the alone time I was planning on, I would have tried to get closer to 5,000 words out. It still wouldn't have caught me up, but it would have been a nice boost. And I would have gotten more cleaning done.

It's not only when she's sick, though, and this is what I mean about our at-home goals clashing. She's got a job and an internship, and she tends to be at work opposite my shifts, which, while I see her less now, has been nice for getting things done. There's no greater motivator and realizer of problems than sitting around bored off your ass because the apartment's too quiet. I'm beginning to be able to fill the silence/boredom with productive hours.

I'm sometimes jealous of people who aren't writers. People who go to work and come home and when they're home, work is over. Many full-time writers lament that so many of their friends think that since they're home all the time, they have nothing but free-time, but writers need to have business hours, too. And for those of us who aren't getting paid (or aren't getting paid very much) for our writing, it can be like working two jobs. Go to work for eight hours and come home, and when we're home work begins again because we have writing projects. Only when those are done can we finally relax.

So I'm living with someone for whom home is nothing but home. But for me, it's my office for part of the day. And I can't make her be quiet (and I don't want to force her to do anything just for my sake) so I have to either find ways to work around it or just, like I've said before, go to the library. I don't think the library would be okay with me having a beer while I write, though.

I think I have to re-invoke some old rules I had for myself. When I'm home alone, the laptop only comes out when I'm doing actual work, aside from the up to an hour that I give myself to unwind/wake up before getting to work. Honestly, I can spend almost as much time on the Internet as she can watching TV, so I have to curb that habit when I'm home alone.

But when the girlfriend is home, I need to do my best to spend time with her. So, home is home when she's home, too; but it's my office when I'm alone.

Of course there are limits to this. As long as all my goals and writing are done for the day, the office can go back to being a home again. Especially during the times when she's working until two in the morning.

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About a year ago I read Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. It's not as good as Fight Club, but it's got some pretty good concepts in it dealing with mental illness and addiction.

The basic premise is that the main character is a sex addict who goes to sex addicts anonymous meetings to pick up chicks. His friend is addicted to masturbation, and this friend does something which is a pretty good metaphor for getting over an addiction.

Every day that this character abstained, he grabbed a large rock and carried it across town to his home. Just one rock every day, about the same size. Eventually, when he has enough, he decides to build a structure out of them.

Okay, the last part is where the metaphor falls through for my purposes here. But the idea I'm trying to get to is that every day is the same challenge. It doesn't get harder or easier. It's the same every day, one rock, a similar size to the previous one.

Because the streak counters over on Reddit are bullshit. Okay, maybe not total bullshit, but they can be detrimental to the spirit of challenges like pornfree, nofap, and even stopgaming. When someone has to reset their counter, they see their day count go all the way down to one, with that mocking little asshole smiley face there just to remind you of your failure.

I've seen a bunch of people spread the opinion that the number of days in a row you abstain doesn't matter as long as you're improving in your own personal challenge. For instance, if someone who viewed porn every day curtails it to every other day, or once a week, that's an improvement. Some people recommend keeping a challenge and just putting a mark like a dot or an X on days when you don't abstain. Months with fewer marks were good months, and over time you can see your improvement.

Resetting a streak counter is like having to send all those rocks back to the quarry and start all over again. It can defeat you and make you feel shitty about your chances of ever getting better. Some people decide that enough's enough and they quit the challenge altogether just to go back to their old ways again.

So, what I'm saying is, I should get a calendar or planner. But they all start in Jan 2016 right now, so maybe I'll wait.

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Creating boundaries at home is important. I think the plan you've come up with sounds good. As someone who has worked for himself for 7 or more years now I definitely relate to the lack of understanding from those who work a more traditional schedule. It's just a different reality in many ways.

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Sorry I haven't been keeping up with other blogs, guys. I kinda only log in here when I make a new post, especially in the midst of NaNoWriMo. I'll catch up whenever I have time, but it's been tough enough finding time to write my novel.

But speaking of which, I've missed six days of writing so far this month, but on the days I've written, I've gotten at least 2500 words done. The average per day to finish on time is 1,667 words. I'm still not caught up to where I'm supposed to be, but that's okay. As long as I keep up 2500 words per day, I'll be fine. And on my days off, I can get even more done. I ended up getting 4300 words on Sunday, and this weekend I should be able to get about that much done each day.

The really ironic thing about this story is that it takes place in a video game. It doesn't make me want to play any games, though, particularly because it revolves around fictitious games and without some of the flavoring, it could be indistinguishable from a fantasy story. But it's not because of the presence of a lot of modern (and futuristic) technologies and characters.

Plus, it's more of an action mystery kind of story. The game within the story is just part of the story, kinda like Ready Player One. I'm having a lot of fun with it, and I'm really excited about this draft. Can't wait for it to be finished (although I actually can, because I have to, and because it's worth it).

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  • 4 weeks later...

I feel like I owe you guys an update.

I fell off the bandwagon. Near the end of November, as NaNoWriMo was winding down, I downloaded a game a friend had sent to me and beat it in a couple of days. It wasn't a long game, and it was fun, and it gave us something new to talk about.

Then I started playing some other games. I went and beat a game I'd been working on for a while, and a game I'd had my eye on for a while went on sale for five bucks on Steam, so I bought that and beat it over a weekend.

So clearly, my "reboot period" or whatever has suffered. But taking almost two months off from gaming at least put some things in perspective, or just in new perspectives.

For one, I'm a story guy. I don't like MMOs (though I tried very hard to like them back in the day) and I don't like open-ended games like Fallout or Elder Scrolls. In all of those games, I feel like I'm just thrust into a situation and told to go do whatever the hell I want. It's like real life, only I have leave to kill people without repercussions. And maybe it's because those games are like real life to me that I don't like them. I have a hard time already in the real world finding direction. The major difference is that when I find a direction of my own in an open world game, it doesn't actually mean anything to my life.

I also absolutely hate League of Legends. A game shouldn't require tens of hours just to learn how to play effectively. If I'm going to spend that much time learning a skill, it better be for a job.

Then consider the games I actually do like. Mass Effect, The Walking Dead, Undertale, Zelda. They're all story-driven. Stories I get to act out. Much more active than movies, and much more interactive than books. I can make choices, and the story can be a little different each time I play them.

I'm not exactly trying to justify a habit here. Just trying to establish the change in perspective.

Now, with video games, I'm sticking only to games that have a story, or offer a good multiplayer social experience (in the same room). I'm staying the hell away from MMOs and the like. And even better, anytime I beat a game, I delete it off of my computer. My Steam catalog will only ever have one game installed at a time. I've already sorted out my games list into Beaten and Want to Beat, and I've hidden the rest of the games. Once a game is beaten, I don't play it again. End of story.

Because I realize I was wasting my time with the games that can go on forever without much or any purpose just as much as I was wasting my time playing the same games over and over again. That's the habit I want to defeat, and I think I've got a handle on it now.

I read books because I like the stories just as I choose the games I play because I like the stories. If Mass Effect were a book, I would have read it by now. (And yes, I know there are tie-in books, but they kinda suck.)

Plus, I'm still writing. I'm about halfway through the second draft of this novel I'm working on, the one I want to try to get published (or get it to a publishable quality) by fall. I have plans to go back to school, and I'm considering starting up a blog that can either make money or become my portfolio to help me get a job writing for a website. I just need to figure out what kind of blog I want to start.

So, that's my state of things. Another factor I forgot to point out is that I think I need to deal with one addiction at a time, and porn is the much worse habit. I've at least been able to curtail the gaming thing. In fact, I haven't played any today. Read a book, wrote part of a blog series for my main site, and now I'm here and leaving for work in a few minutes.

For those of you looking to quit gaming forever, I wish you the best and all the luck I can give. Godspeed.

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Hey! Thanks for sharing an update.

Have you considered trying Theatre/Acting or Improv? If you like the story component in games, that can give you a perspective for the kinds of other activities you could take up that would get that fix.

Try out improv, I bet you'd enjoy it.

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For one, I'm a story guy. I don't like MMOs (though I tried very hard to like them back in the day) and I don't like open-ended games like Fallout or Elder Scrolls. In all of those games, I feel like I'm just thrust into a situation and told to go do whatever the hell I want. It's like real life, only I have leave to kill people without repercussions. And maybe it's because those games are like real life to me that I don't like them. I have a hard time already in the real world finding direction. The major difference is that when I find a direction of my own in an open world game, it doesn't actually mean anything to my life.

I also absolutely hate League of Legends. A game shouldn't require tens of hours just to learn how to play effectively. If I'm going to spend that much time learning a skill, it better be for a job.

Then consider the games I actually do like. Mass Effect, The Walking Dead, Undertale, Zelda. They're all story-driven. Stories I get to act out. Much more active than movies, and much more interactive than books. I can make choices, and the story can be a little different each time I play them.

Hey Gank, thanks for expressing this. I actually identify 100% with you here and like the same kinds of games. Open-ended games can feel like work for me; I need the excitement and structure of a narrative within which my actions actually have meaning in context.

For the moment I'm hoping that I can get my enjoyment of story from books and movies. :)

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For one, I'm a story guy. I don't like MMOs (though I tried very hard to like them back in the day) and I don't like open-ended games like Fallout or Elder Scrolls. In all of those games, I feel like I'm just thrust into a situation and told to go do whatever the hell I want. It's like real life, only I have leave to kill people without repercussions. And maybe it's because those games are like real life to me that I don't like them. I have a hard time already in the real world finding direction. The major difference is that when I find a direction of my own in an open world game, it doesn't actually mean anything to my life.

I also absolutely hate League of Legends. A game shouldn't require tens of hours just to learn how to play effectively. If I'm going to spend that much time learning a skill, it better be for a job.

Then consider the games I actually do like. Mass Effect, The Walking Dead, Undertale, Zelda. They're all story-driven. Stories I get to act out. Much more active than movies, and much more interactive than books. I can make choices, and the story can be a little different each time I play them.

Hey Gank, thanks for expressing this. I actually identify 100% with you here and like the same kinds of games. Open-ended games can feel like work for me; I need the excitement and structure of a narrative within which my actions actually have meaning in context.

For the moment I'm hoping that I can get my enjoyment of story from books and movies. :)

+1. Although strangely I am not missing that kind of games. If I have cravings it's always the quick fixes: TF2 or HS.

Good luck Gank. Keep writing here when you can.

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Once More, with Feeling

I've given up on the idea that I'll quit gaming forever. Partly because I just don't want to.

However, since getting back into gaming about three weeks ago, I'm starting to think it might be a good idea to do a full 90-day reboot.

I mentioned over on the Game Quitters forum my reason for getting back into gaming. And I've been fairly responsible about it. I usually only play after other things have been done around the house, or maybe even just a break from a long day of cleaning. And I stick to games with story. Not mindless or repetitive games, but games that make me care similarly to the way books or movies make me care.

But I haven't written a word of fiction in my novel since NaNoWriMo ended. I blame this on being burned out from the breakneck process, but really I know that I could have taken just a week off and been fine. My biggest issue was not being able to stop and think about what comes next. I just had to write.

The part that kills me is that I stopped in the middle of a scene.

I've been reading some books on writing by Steven Pressfield lately. Namely, Do the Work! and The War of Art. Both deal with battling against resistance. Not just for writers and artists, but for people trying to diet, or start a business, or just achieve pretty much anything monumental.

Just the first few pages of The War of Art were enough to guilt-trip me into realizing that I have to get past my procrastination, that no excuses are real. Resistance comes from within, as Pressfield says, and it is a dire enemy.

So, as I've said time and time again, I'm going to stop saying I should do this or that and just do it. Start working out to get this beer gut off (and also curtail the drinking for the same reason). Get back to work on my novel. Finish the blog series I started but won't release on my main blog until it's finished.

I'm going to change the theme of this blog, too. I like the simple look of this format, so I'll try to find something similar, but I want to have graphics on the side with like streak counters and maybe even a weight log. I dunno. Maybe I'll just keep that stuff to myself.

I'm trying to keep off of the exceptions, too, which I allowed myself a lot of last time. Sometimes when the girlfriend and I are off together, we end up watching hours and hours of TV. I don't like that. So sometimes I just go play a game on the computer or my phone instead. I may still do a little bit of that, but only if it's not feasible for me to take my laptop to the library and get some writing done. Like if it's late, or a holiday, or I've already gotten a lot of writing done that day.

First step is planning my workouts. I already have the running part down. The other step, then, is figuring out my other workouts. I kind of want to get back into swimming. But swimming sucks because I can't listen to audiobooks and I'm just stuck thinking to myself about pretty much nothing. It's boring. I may go back to my sit-up, push-up, pull-up routine, alternating back and forth between that and running.

I just don't know what I'm going to do when it starts snowing. Fall's been pretty forgiving thus far. Can't wait to see the bullshit Winter brings to make up for it.

I need to stick to the goals on my about page which is hidden by this theme in the sidebar. Another reason I should update the theme.

So right now I'm 205 pounds. I want to get that down to like 180. And I want to get in better shape. Not ripped, but healthier.

And my deadline for this draft of my novel is March 1. I would make it sooner, but holiday season, man.

I have some credit card debt, too. Not a whole lot, but enough to worry. Spending less on games (which hasn't been an issue lately) and beer will help a lot. Plus tax return should be soon.

That's my main plan now. A very broad plan, but it works for me for now. I'm just debating now if I should go beat the game I've been working on before I go full-swing into this regimen. Might be that I won't quit but rather I'll set times during which I can play and only if chores and writing have been done for the day.

One mistake I know I won't be repeating, though, is making reading one of my "chores." Takes the fun out of it, and sometimes I just space out too much if there are other things to be done. It's a leisure activity, not a job.

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The 90 day detox is a good place to start. After that you're in a different space that will help you make a more informed decision about the role of gaming in your life.

Big fan of The War of Art. I've managed to get as much work done this year as I have because of that book.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Last Hurrah

Today marks the beginning of my 90-day reboot.

There's a reason I took a while getting back to it, though I can tell you from the start that this reason is going to seem like bullshit.

I had a game I needed to beat. A game I'd been trying to beat for more than ten years. And finally, I've slain the dragon!

Or, defeated Giygas, however you wanna phrase it.

The game was Earthbound. It's a game that always drew me back no matter how many times I started and stopped it. I think the battle system always baffled me, and the unintuitive healing system annoyed me. I died way too often, but despite that, something about it kept me coming back.

And now that I've beaten it, and mastered it, I can rest easy, so long as I can resist the fan translation of Mother 3. Maybe after my reboot, Nintendo will have announced an official translation on the eShop.

I will say this, anyone who wants to be a game programmer should play Earthbound. It's got the kind of charm and mystery that can only be found in indie games nowadays, and it's already inspired at least two great modern games I can think of off the top of my head.

Hell, it's even gotten me thinking of retooling one of my stories into a video game. But that effort's a way off if it'll ever happen. I don't need to focus on learning programming right now.

But maybe after a week or so I'll get bored and start learning programming anyway.

So anyway. I just wanted to regale you with my story of finally dealing with something that's always been on a back-burner in my mind ever since I first heard of it. I know it's silly, but I feel better now, and happier for having had that experience.

But today, it's time to get serious.

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Clutter

Okay, scratch the last post. Today is the start of my 90-day reboot.

After reflecting a lot about what my problem actually is with quitting gaming to focus on writing and losing weight and just general self-improvement, I've realized that I'm just overwhelmed.

I look around the apartment and see my mental to-do list pile up, get overwhelmed and say screw it, I'ma play a video game. Or watch youtube for hours on end. Or do other, less innocuous things.

Then at the end of the day, I'm disappointed in how little I got done. Even as I write this I get the feeling I've written the same words multiple times before in this journal.

But it goes beyond disappointment in myself. It's started to affect my relationship. My girlfriend has pretty severe ADD and her Adderall has been directly causing insomnia and that's been causing sleepwalking. The sleepwalking was funny at first, but after two weeks of not getting a full night's sleep (one of which resulted in only a half-hour of uninterrupted sleep) it started to get to me.

And I twisted my disappointment in myself into it, and began to blame her for my own failures, without even realizing how unfair and shitty I was being.

Truth is, I get a lot of time to myself. I don't use it wisely. And while I still stand by the notion that we don't share chores fairly (lately the consistent setup has been: I cook, do dishes, do laundry; she makes the bed and vacuums) I definitely could be using my free time better. I could be putting my money where my mouth is and using that alone time to get my own personal things done.

But I'm still overwhelmed. The other day I thought I was making progress. I folded laundry (which took an hour) before work, and then decided to work out a little. Then I had to leave early for work and the dishes were not done. Literally all of our plates and bowls are in the sink. But I had a shitty day at work, and rather than do anything about it, I just wallowed in my own misery.

Those dishes are still there. And when they're there in the sink, they're there on my mind.

I think back to the other day when it took an hour to fold laundry. I have no idea how many hours it'll take to get the whole apartment clean. I do know I won't be able to focus on my own personal projects until the place is clean. So in that light, I'm going to have to dedicate my day off to cleaning. If there's time, I can work out. Then if there's still time, I can write. Simple as that.

It's just really shitty having all these things in the way, cluttering my space as well as my mind.

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I used to take Adderall and it absolutely caused insomnia for me. 

Something that helped me break free from some of the overwhelm you're experiencing is called the 2-minute rule. If you can do it in 2 minutes or less, do it now. James Clear also has an article on it here. For instance, after you used a dish, if you just rinsed it and washed it quick, it would take 20 seconds and the mental clarity of it being done would be relieving. But if you let your dishes pile up and wait for days, it takes 15 times longer to clean each one, it takes up mental space, etc.

Anyways, this year I started a "completion list" and I'm keeping tabs on everything I need to finish. I just got to LA and paid my LA parking ticket, crossed that off my list, feels great. There's other things on there but at least having them in one space gets me one step closer to crossing them off.

If I may make another suggestion, it would be this:

Spend your day off cleaning and getting things back to zero - back to a clean slate, no pun intended. Then, start scheduling the important things in your day and let the rest work around it. What would it look like if you did the opposite approach of "if there's time, I can work out." "if there's time, I can write."

If those are the things that are important to you, and they fuel you, you must do them, not if you have time. If you have time you can do other shit. I only share this because this has been a change I've made recently that's helped a lot. I used to only work out if I had time, and so I never worked out, because I never had time. So I switched that and I've been working out all week it's been great. Then today I had a ton of meetings scheduled, forgot to schedule my workout in, and I was feeling overwhelmed. So I cancelled a meeting to get my workout in. I can do that meeting in a few weeks and nothing will be impacted, but I still get my workout today which is a priority. It always comes down to the little decisions you make.

Anyways, hang in there, change the things you need to change to get the results you want. Be more intentional in making sure that things don't pile up. Donate half of your clothes. That way it will take you 30 minutes to fold laundry instead of 60.

Schedule two hours and go read this book at a coffee shop or library. It'll be worth it. :)

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Hey, Cam, thanks for a lot of great advice.

I didn't quite get everything back to zero, though that was originally the plan. I've been trying not to rely on coffee so much, so I spent my day off not having any caffeine. I got all the dishes done and tidied a few things up here and there, but after that I sat down to watch a short video and have some lunch and ended up falling asleep.

On the upside, I have been keeping up with the dishes. The girlfriend and I had a pizza and beer night last night so there wasn't much to clean up, but it really does feel good to have everything out of the sink. We used to be better about it. Hopefully we can both make this adjustment.

(Also, we realized that it's mainly when we make burgers that we end up with a backlog of dishes. We're going to try to do dishes while cooking next time.)

I definitely see the wisdom in reversing the priorities of things I need/want to do. This is a change I need to make. But there are some things that seem difficult to really schedule this way. Like, I don't like setting time requirements for writing. I just need to get through my outline and then I'm satisfied. But I feel like I need to at least schedule a time when all I'm doing is writing. And I decided to try a subscription at Code Academy, but I don't know how long I should work on that each day. To be honest, it's fun, so it almost feels guilty to learn programming for hours at a time lol. I may have to set a time limit on that (or a number of lessons to complete, possibly rounding up or down to my time limit).

I certainly have my own completion list. They mainly consist of finishing the second draft of this novel and registering my vehicle in this state. My plates are really expired and I'm convinced a cop almost pulled me over the other day but lost interest. Cops don't skip around the car behind you just to make a right turn (incidentally, that turn goes toward the police station, and they'd originally been about to take the right turn before that which also goes to the station). Long story short: I need to update my registration. Can't do it today and I'm not sure I can do it over the weekend. If I can (ie. if the BMV is open) I'll do it tomorrow. If not, I'll do it Monday.

But tomorrow I'm definitely going to make a more concerted effort to get back to zero. I've done it before and it made me feel great. It's hard to tell where I went wrong.

Oh, and I'm happy to report that my girlfriend is on a new alternative to Adderall and we both slept through the night last night. I feel so much better today (if not completely caught up on sleep).

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Hey gank, I identify with a lot of things you're talking about here.

But it goes beyond disappointment in myself. It's started to affect my relationship. My girlfriend has pretty severe ADD and her Adderall has been directly causing insomnia and that's been causing sleepwalking. The sleepwalking was funny at first, but after two weeks of not getting a full night's sleep (one of which resulted in only a half-hour of uninterrupted sleep) it started to get to me.

And I twisted my disappointment in myself into it, and began to blame her for my own failures, without even realizing how unfair and shitty I was being.

I was in a relationship with a girl with ADHD for 2 years, so I totally get where you're coming from. She suffered from insomnia too, and no joke I also went through a period of blaming her for my own failures just like you. There are certain patterns that happen in ADHD relationships - there are good books on the subject if you're interested. For me I think I felt like I had to compensate for her weaknesses and help her out, and eventually that leads to resentment... so you start to blame them for the things that aren't working in your life. It's not fair to either of you, but emotions aren't rational. It can be a tough place to be in. 

With regards to messiness and chores, I'm actually having a declutter day today. :) It's probably overkill right now for you, but I've been reading Getting Things Done, which is all about productivity and using time effectively. It's really aimed for business, but the principles can be applied everywhere in life. Point being, there are probably mindset changes you could work on to accomplish the things that you want to.

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