Overthinking and decluttering

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It’s something that’s always plagued me; overthinking a potentially bad situation to the point where I’m convinced the worst possible outcome is the only viable one.  More often than not this couldn’t be farther from the truth and then I find myself scolding my brain for unnecessary worry.  But, while I’m finally getting a bit of control over this habit,  overthinking of another kind has crept into my writing recently.  Or should I say potential writing.

I haven’t been doing any writing at all recently, which is ironic since I’ve just set up this blog to talk about it.  But the last few weeks I’ve been thinking up so many different projects I could be working on; one based on a dear subject close to my heart, as well as a different idea in a related field, two series of fictional books, ongoing fanzine writing, creating my own fanzine and another project based on something I attempted on Instagram last year, which would take both book and blog form.  All came to me at different times and all seemed to have great potential.  But sitting with a friend on Friday night I realised I was spreading myself so thin that I was even considering deleting this blog just to free up the time to do half of it.

That’s not going to happen.  Instead I’ve been having both a mental and physical decluttering.

I’ve talked before on here about how over the years I’d a habit of wanting results too quickly and how my attention span wouldn’t last long enough to see things through.  I also gave advice on concentrating on the here and now, putting your all into the project you’re currently working on and piecing together the bigger picture over time.  Work hard on the thing in front of you and the future will open up in time, your writing will expand naturally and opportunities will present themselves as a result of what you’ve put in.

I realised I wasn’t taking my own advice and was instead slipping back into the old habits which had stopped me from getting anywhere in the past.

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My previous post with sage advice I then completely ignored

I mentioned a physical decluttering as well and isn’t eBay wonderful for this?  I’d so many hobbies collecting dust around the house I felt I had to spend time with them all, all of the time, or I’d feel guilty for spending large sums of money.  The end result was I’d be jumping from one to the other and never fully concentrate on one at a time, so never felt a sense of satisfaction from any of them.  Sound familiar?

I’m still in the middle of honing these down to my current main hobbies and already I’m spending more time with those most important to me.  Doing so I’m getting so much more out of each one and enjoying them more than I ever did.  It’s working already in this sense so it’s time to apply it to my passion for writing.

So, my own advice has been taken.

This has all been a bit of a revelation to me recently so I had to share, even though in writing it down it’s more like simple common sense.  But sometimes we can’t see what’s staring us right in the face until we get a chance to look at things in a different light.

Anyway, for now I’m away to package up a bunch of parcels for the post tomorrow, then get back to building my James Bond Aston Martin.  I’ll be back soon with the first of three posts bringing you up to date on those past attempts at writing and how I’ve got to the place I’m at now, where I’m going to make a real go of this.  Have a good Sunday folks!

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This build is going up on my Instagram if you’re interest

Writing & (real-life) Pacing

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This is currently my view as I sit here writing this post where I’m cat-sitting for the week.  Looks chilled and relaxed doesn’t it?  You’re right, but since deciding I’d like to write for a living I should apparently be feeling somewhat different.

Frustrated?  Anxious?  Worried if I’ll succeed?  Worried I’m not further along than I am?  I’m told these feelings should all be familiar territory.  Actually, they used to be.  But just because I’m relaxed doesn’t mean I’m not serious about it.

I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember, all my life having periodic bursts working on a project, only to give up because I wanted results and I wanted them straight away.  I wanted to be published, to be taken seriously and wanted it “now” as a full-time career, by my rules.

I wanted the end result instead of the ride to get there, so I’d end up resenting the work and stop.  That’s when I used to have those moods above.  Surely now in my 40th year (as people like to keep reminding me) I should be even more anxious to get myself established after decades of procrastinating and short attention spans?  No.  You see, I wrote a blog about a comic for a couple of years which started as nothing more than a distraction, but it grew organically and became a huge part of my life.  From that my passion for writing returned and is now finally moving forward.

My point is I can now see how my passion returned within me without even realizing it and the previous blog was all the better for it.  I originally thought I’d stop it a few months in as I always did, so I just enjoyed each post as I wrote it.  Without the pressure of a specific end result I enjoyed writing it so much more than anything I’d attempted before.  It continued to be fun, not a chore to battle through just to get to a final product.  The result was something I’m incredibly proud of and which people have actually enjoyed reading.

I’ve seen a few blogs out there belonging to some who wish to write and I sense the frustration.  I see posts filled with short stories trying to force a writing style out from new keyboards, trying to be deliberately enigmatic and just ending up making no sense, or attempting to emulate their favourite author.  In other words, trying to be the finished product (in the case of both the written word and the writer) instead of developing, learning, enjoying the ride and most importantly enjoying the writing.

One problem I have and I’ll admit this, is trying to hurry things along to the conclusion I want.  Wanting a preset, perfect future to be here now.  I’ve spent so long focusing on the end results before that I’ve neglected the here and now.  I guess I could say that’s a metaphor for some things in my life away from writing too and the lesson I’ve learned is a simple one, but one which I can’t empahasise enough.

Forget that preset, seemingly perfect future.  By all means have your goals or know the preferred direction you want to take, but remain flexible.  Concentrate on each day as it comes, put your all into whatever it is you’re currently doing ‘here and now’ and you’ll piece together the bigger plan naturally over time, all while you enjoy the ride.  I guarantee that future will be all the more perfect for it.

Beginning the blog, beginning the day

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I was never one to like routines.  I found them monotonous, but recently I’ve started to embrace one at a certain time, which has enabled me to have much more fulfilling days!

Last summer I took to getting up at 7:30am every morning whether I was at work or not when a neighbour’s dogs started waking the street up at 8:00.  Initially annoyed with this I soon grew to love being up early at the weekends when the air just felt different, more fresh (I live in the city) and I found myself going for early morning runs, watching my box sets with breakfast, writing or catching an early morning classic film on TV.

Getting up and doing something, anything, soon spilt over to the rest of the day too.  I can procrastinate like a champ, but I came to realise if I started the day off well then on some subconscious level I wouldn’t want to waste a moment; my inner procrastinator would take the day off and I’d have a great sense of satisfaction when I went to bed each night.  Yet if I slept in and lounged about it’d be later and later in the morning before I’d have the energy to start anything, I’d feel lazy all day and end up wasting it, cursing myself when it was time to go back to the office.

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Now fast-forward to the beginning of December and I had the month off, my favourite time of the year had arrived and I’d been bought a wonderfully original advent calendar with different flavours of tea for each day.  I’d also bought myself a Christmas jumper mug (from Firebox but I also saw it in the shops in Belfast) so decided to try them both out in my newly festively-decorated house.  Usually I’d have jumped straight into the shower at 7:30am but on this particular day I liked the idea of going downstairs in my dressing gown and curling up with a hot cuppa first to wake myself up.  With this cup can you blame me?  The whole scenario cried out “winter” to me.

For whatever reason I hadn’t shut down my Mac the night before and noticed the power light softly blinking in sleep mode.  So I sat down on my (very comfy) chair in front of my desk at the back of my living room and woke it up.  Next thing it was 8:45am and I’d had a very enjoyable and extremely promising start to the day, having checked all of my social media, emails, the day’s news and I’d even been texting friends and annoying them that I was off.  I also noticed the time was exactly half an hour before a certain TV show I always tried to catch when I’m in the house on a weekday morning…

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So I nipped off to the shower and was back to the living room just in time to make breakfast and settle down in front of Matthew Wright.  I love The Wright Stuff and find it’s a great way of catching up with a lot of what’s happening in the world and, while it can get serious, it often does so in an accessible and funny way.  But that wasn’t all this morning brought with it, no no.

The same lovely person who’d introduced me to the tea above had also shown me TweetDeck and the ability to schedule my Twitter ramblings.  Now I’m all for engaging with people in real-time but for the purposes of getting The Oink! Blog posts out there, to as many people who may be interested as possible, it proved invaluable.  So on this particular morning I spent the ad breaks during The Wright Stuff on the couch with coffee and my iPad, writing out the day’s scheduled tweets to promote the latest posts.

(Of course at the weekend Matthew isn’t on, but he’s usually replaced with either Saturday Kitchen or a couple of NCIS episodes on DVD, but the same rules still apply.)

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By the time the show was over at 11:15am I felt I’d really accomplished something with my morning and it wasn’t even over yet, never mind the whole day!  I felt positive, encouraged and motivated, spending the rest of the morning writing more, the afternoon Christmas shopping and wrapping, I’d company that night and cooked dinner and had a lovely night in.  When the next morning rolled around it was a no brainer to get up and try the same thing again.

You know what?  It worked.

I found it really beneficial to have a morning routine to set me up for the day when I’m off.  I love it, it’s effortless, gets my brain going and I find my whole day so productive if I keep to it.  Here’s to what it could bring to 2017!

 

Welcome to 2017

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The first post of a new blog at the very beginning of a brand new year.  It’s not the easiest thing to write, that’s for sure.  But basically what I want to do here is say “Hi” and welcome you to my new venture with a quick introduction to what you can expect from my waffling, wittering and wonderings throughout 2017 and (hopefully) beyond.

As a teen I loved to write, in my twenties I love to write and in my thirties I loved to write.  But guess what?  I never did anything about it.  Then a few years ago I started up a little blog about a classic 80s British comic, originally just a silly and fun thing to do every fortnight but it grew into something I never expected: a successful venture which rekindled my passion for writing again!

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Now I’ve seen myself published on a top UK comics site, I’m in the preliminary stages of a book project about the very same subject, then in the world of retro computing I’ve seen myself published in book and fanzine form, while a website has also asked me to be a regular reviewer.

With the start of that book came a realisation that I can make something of this and that’s led to this blog.

I became more interested in the blogosphere recently and, thanks to a fellow blogger whose site I’ll introduce soon, I got an insight into the world of personal lifestyle blogging.  It intrigued me but I struggled at first to see what I could bring to it, but in the end it suddenly clicked in my head.  There may be a wealth of fashion, beauty, food and travel blogs but the best and most successful (both popularity-wise and in their content) seem to be those which cover a variety of personal aspects of the writer’s life, while maintaining the main focus front-and-centre.

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So here I am at the very beginning of a very personal journey into the lifestyle blogging of a wannabe freelance writer.  I hope you’ll join me for the ride.