Me — Building Progress by Months

So, one thing I’ve decided to do—perhaps even the defining thing—is pace myself by monthly goals. In the past, I’ve done things like “Read 50 books in a year” or even just “travel more” or “be more social”. The problem with those goals is that the first is easy to procrastinate and set yourself up for failure, and the second type is vague enough to be neglected and, eventually, forgotten. The challenge, supposedly, is to be strict enough to push yourself, but not to go over the deep end and burn yourself out without making any true progress.

What I’m doing this year solves both of those issues, and I think it’s fairly obvious what I mean by monthly goals. Specifically, I have the goal that I’m working on for this month, and that goal is intended to lead into the next step, which will be February’s goal. After that, I have ideas, but I’m not going to worry about what March’s goal will be until February hits.

Right now, in January, all I’m doing is forcing myself to really consider my dietary intake and get into the habit of looking at what I’m eating and tracking how I feel (weight, energy levels, etc). I’m also trying to build a routine of getting up at 5am to work out for 30-60 minutes (or else get some other form of productivity done), but since that isn’t the primary goal, I’m not beating myself up when I don’t accomplish it. That, as it turns out, is February’s goal, and I’m just trying to get a head start because I feel I’m doing a great job at eating more and better food as well as cataloging my progress. Right now I still feel that eating basically nothing is the “norm”, so the habit definitely isn’t there yet, but I’ve made good progress.

February will be all about building an actual workout routine instead of doing what I can when I feel like it, because the latter part of that statement means I don’t do a whole lot. My long term goal is to get to a point where nobody comments about my appearance at all. (Because society says it’s okay to call people skinny). So, in light of that, I’m going to try to gain anywhere between 30-50 pounds, which obviously won’t be easy with my habit of skipping lunch because it’s the cheapest option. I won’t try to achieve that in February. Just like this month, the goal is more about building routines and sticking to them than achieving deadlines and hitting targets.

I also want to start painting minis regularly, spending more time with my brothers, and recording audiobooks. Those are goals for future months. The current me has no idea how to fit any of that into the schedule, as I’m freaking out a bit struggling to get normal stuff done. Hopefully, built routines will allow me to have more energy and willpower to accomplish more with my days.

But I’d be foolish to try to do all of this at once, and I suggest and encourage you to build incremental goals like I’m doing. It’s working out great so far.

 

Me — January ’20 Monthly Update

This one will be a bit different because, in addition to the normal monthly update, I’m going to introduce the changes I’m making to my life to make 2020 the best year it can be. Let’s waste no time.

The Monthly Update Topic Order™: blog, writing plans, work, school, D&D, video games, reading/listening, and other things.

I will tentatively be changing the blog schedule to twice a week: Wednesdays and Sundays. I say tentatively because I may come to realize I’m asking too much of myself—only time will tell. I will also introduce a self imposed rule that I cannot publish two blog posts in a row that cover the same subject (referring to “Me”, “Review”, “Stories”, etc). This will force me to think of a new post if the only thing that’s on my mind is work, or me being lonely, or whatever it happens to be. I feel like there’s no point in having a blog if I feel like the only thing I have to say is “life sucks” in different ways once a week. However, this is another reason I might not be able to do twice a week. We’ll see.

Writing has been going well. The passion project has been making concrete plans on the road to Patreon, and so far I am very excited and optimistic with our trajectory. The second draft of the Lisa Stenton screenplay has been done for a while now, and I have no plans to edit it at the moment. I’m shelving it for now because putting more time into it at my current state is not helpful. Meanwhile my second short story anthology is still on my to-do list, but it is unfortunately getting pushed back by my 2020 resolutions.

Work has been alright. Not much to say about it, though I have been spending the last several days reorganizing and moving all the tables and machines around the shop. I even made a 1:12 scale model so that I can plan ahead and look at different layouts before I commit to anything.

I am done with school! I should be getting my degrees soon, but honestly, I’m just happy to be done, because now I have more time to focus on me. (If only that simply meant “more free time”…) As such, I will be removing “school” off the Monthly Update Topic Order™!

Friday is Session One of my brother’s new adventure, in which I will be debuting my new Drow Shadow Monk. He is DMing this campaign in my world, using characters that have, as of yet, only been mentioned by name. He claims to have an overarching plot that will solidify historic points in history, and I am both terrified and excited to see what he means. After he’s done (he only plans for this to be a couple of months), I will once again don the mantle of DM to tell the second half of the Knights of Fire’s story! I don’t expect that to start until June, to be honest, but only time will tell.

I have had little time for video games. As of right now, I am exclusively playing World of Warcraft, with a single Heroes of the Storm or Magic: The Gathering match if I only have 20-40 minutes to spare for something. Lately I’ve been turning on autopilot and farming gold, because I’ve been too tired to do anything else.

I haven’t been reading or listening to anything lately, but that’s mostly because Critical Role is still on it’s holiday break. I’m hyped to start watching the stream again this Thursday!

Alright: 2020 changes. It boils down to one thing that manifests in two ways. And for once, I’m very basic with my resolution.

I’m going to try harder to give myself an appearance I am proud of.

That is to say, I’m eating food, for one. These past several months I’ve been taking a nap at work for lunch because it was cheaper than buying/preparing food, but I realize that’s not healthy. So, for as much as it hurts my wallet, I’ve been buying things like meal bars and protein shakes and stocking up my bag when I go to work. I also got an app to track what I’m eating every day and what I should be eating to put on weight. I’d like to put on 20-30 pounds, and I think I need to be actively working out in order to achieve that result in a way I like. I don’t have the money for a gym membership and my house is full of people, so being self conscious makes working out hard, but I’m fitting it in where I can.

Lastly, I’ve been framing my actions in terms of what the “Ideal Kollin” would do, and I’m trying as best as my willpower will allow me to achieve it. I’m also keeping track of everything I do and how I feel, even more than I did last year. If I felt like I was productive, I mark that down. If I took a nap, I mark it. I’m tracking my weight every morning and when I wake up. I’m hoping to sync all of these stats with each other once I have some data so that I can maybe come to some conclusions, but it will be a couple months before I can start to do things like that.

So far, 2020 has yielded exactly 0 depressive episodes, and though not every day has been stellar, I’m content with how things are going so far.

I hope you’re all having similar experiences, and despite the upcoming struggles, you and I will overcome them.

 

 

 

Me — My Love for Brainstorming

So, even with my conspicuously missing spark of inspiration, and my consequential lack of fiction writing, there is quite a lot of aspects to stories I do enjoy, which is why I’m so confident I’ll find my career somewhere in this giant field. I’m pretty good at editing when I’m really doubling down on it, and I’d say I have a pretty solid grasp on story structure.

What’s weird is that as much as I dislike outlining stories I plan on writing, I love outlining and brainstorming stories. A friend and I have been working on the plot to a story for a few months (totaling to about two and a half real discussions), and the outline is coming together very well.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, listen to an episode of Rocket Jump’s podcast Story Break. For those of you that don’t want to take the time to do that, I’d describe it very simply as taking a simple idea and fleshing it out into a story, randomly spitballing until you get that spark of “Oh, that’s cool”, and then writing that down and spitballing again until you find something that thematically ties in to what you’ve already got. You repeat this process over and over and by the time you’re done you should have a full story plot complete with strong themes, recurring symbols, and dynamic characters. Or at least it looks like you do on paper. Then you write the first draft and it turns out to be crap.

But that part’s an altogether different story. Right now I’m just talking about being in the headspace of brainstorming. The mental office in which you have no clutter, no restrictions, no rules, no anything. You just have a blank piece of paper and a giant bowl of primordial essence with which you can create this masterpiece. Plus, since it’s all just in your head, it’s automatically perfect. Converting concept to product is never as simple as fun. At least, not for me. When I’m creating something new I don’t want to spend time thinking anything other than what’s cool and shooting for that.

And you know, the funny thing about writing blog posts like this is that you sometimes discover things about yourself. I often tell people that creativity is the ability to justify things under constraints, and that it’s pretty much just a muscle that you need to train (you know, just like literally everything in life). But writing about this now has me realizing that the thing I love most about creating something new is the lack of restrictions other than the ones I impose on myself.

With most larger concepts I start with the one idea I like and then throw in the opposite of it. “The Cool” and “The But”, as I’ve begun to call them. (Maybe I should do a dedicated post on finding the Cool and the But sometime in the near future.) Once I have those two things, I spend the rest of the time marrying them in a way that looks like they were meant to be together from the start, and often I’ll find some neat things along the way.

So, I don’t know if there’s any occupation that is literally just brainstorming, be it plots, scripts, worlds, whatever, but if there is, I could totally see myself doing that all day every day for a living.

Life — False Expectations

You ever think about something that’s going to happen, and you can’t help but dread it or hype yourself up with anxiety, only to find out that it wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought it would be?

If you’re anything like me (and I’m inclined to believe most humans are), you get anxious at everything, even if the stress levels vary. Planning a party, performing on stage, going to events you doubt you’d enjoy, doesn’t matter.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I’ve brushed on this before (though it was like seven months ago), but when we think about future events, our brains have a habit of romanticizing them, warping them and branching off into all the possibilities of how that scenario will go. Most often, they branch off towards either the worst or the best cases.

When you go on a date, pessimism will say you’re going to do any number of embarrassing things, say the wrong words, or run out of things to say and be left with an awkward silence. On the other hand, optimism will tell you that you’ll be incredibly charming, suave, take your pick of any positive adjective. You imagine it’ll go amazing and everything you could want to happen does.

Only, that’s not how the world works. In virtually every scenario you plan, the reality will end up being somewhere in the middle. It’s just a bell curve probability. If you’re a chronically anxious person, I want you to think back to all the situations and events you were particularly worried about. I’d be willing to bet pretty much all of them turned out okay. You might remember a particularly embarrassing moment from that event, but in hindsight, it was ridiculous to assume the apocalypse would happen that day, right?

Your gut will tell you any number of awful things occur if you go to that party. But your gut is a drama queen and blows up possible scenarios when the likelihood of most of them seeing fruition is zero.

The best thing to do is to shrug off your mind’s impossible pre-conceived notions of how something might fail catastrophically. This is why, when you’re planning on torturing somebody, you don’t tell that person what you’re going to do to them. Instead, you make sure they know they will be tortured, and you leave them to fill the blanks. The scenarios they will construct in their mind will be far, far worse than anything you could really do to them. As a side note, you probably shouldn’t be torturing people. Trust me, it’s a bad habit.

All that being said, try new things! Be adventurous! Even if nothing pans out spectacularly, you’ll come out of things with more insight into your personality and, in general, a more experienced person. Alternatively, if you never try anything because you’re too scared, what is going to stop you from being scared of everything? Don’t let your fear of what might be stop you from having to ask yourself what could have been.