If you can’t change the stuff you hate, at least change the stuff you can control.

I managed to write almost 5000 words this weekend – woohoo! I have my outline to thank, along with a bit of cheating (aka stealing some dialogue and such from previous drafts ;D)

Still, that puts me 15,000 words into what will likely be a 50,000 word rewrite of Paradisa – Draft Six. My goal is to have this done by August 31. That will leave plenty of time left in the year for another beta round, then another cleanup draft (which will hopefully just be a detail fix this time. By God, please don’t make me do another one of these massive rewrites. I thought I was done last time!).  I can’t believe it’ll have taken me over two years to write this book. Jeez. I hope future projects aren’t this bloated.

But in the book’s defense, I have gone through a period of apathy over the past 6+ months, and that has not been productive at all. It started with the winter doldrums. Then work got more stressful. Then work became everything. It was really disheartening. Work was too stressful to enjoy, and there was nothing fun for me to work on at home either. Ever feel like that?

Work toned down a little, but I realized that I needed to focus on how I could change things that are actually in my control.  I want to have short stories published. I want to make films. I want to build and join communities of like-minded people. I want my novel(s) published too, obviously. And by zoning in on just one thing for all that time – Paradisa – I totally burned my inspiration. On nights when I didn’t feel like looking at Paradisa, I had nothing else to do, and I was a useless blob on the couch. Energy is something that has to be geared up and then maintained, or you lose all of it. And I lost all of it, from the energy to write, to the energy to hang out with my friends, to the energy to vacuum the house.

So I gave myself more projects. I want short stories published, so I made a spreadsheet of paying markets and picked out a few stories to write by the end of the year. I dug up all my old works and I’m shipping those out a few at a time to see if I get any bites. I’m making sure to read 30 minutes a day, mostly nonfiction to help with “Paradisa research,” but fiction too. I’m putting my name out there as a freelance writer, editor, and designer on sites like odesk, because making side money is cool. On the film end, I’ve been researching low-budget motion capture technology, like the Microsoft Kinect, because most of my film aspirations would be too expensive to shoot live – and with mocap, I could bring my wildest dreams to life with a computer and my garage. But I’ll keep that stuff a bit under wraps for now, because I’ll be throwing you guys a fun announcement about my mocap stuff in about two months ;)

The busier I am, the more I’m forced to find time instead of assuming I’ll make the time later. And the more energy that requires, the more I can maintain the energy to do it all. And I’m sure Austin also appreciates that more energy = more cleaning/chores/household necessities getting done too. ;) But the best part? I’m giving myself options. No longer will I go home and be confined to one project, which I may or may not feel like pounding away at. If I don’t feel like writing, I can do an animation tutorial. If I don’t feel like learning, I can edit an old webseries. If I don’t feel like looking at a computer, I can read. If I just feel like having fun,  I can play my Guitar Hero drums because that’s training my hand-eye coordination to one day learn real drums.

Yeah, I still have the 9-5. Yeah, they’re still throwing trials in my path and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier. But I was not happy making that stuff the main point of my day. Make your creativity, your aspirations, your talent and your own projects the point of your day. We all have a million different stories in us, and it’s easy to get stuck spinning our wheels on just one, because spreading ourselves over too many things can mean nothing ever gets done. But if you take a manageable amount of projects, some with deadlines and some without, and give yourself small goals every single day? Stuff will get done. You will see the finished products form out of each medium. It takes patience, and diligence, but man has it evoked happiness I haven’t had in a couple of years now.

What can you do to make yourself happier today? What can you do to better yourself in some way? Make self-improvement, happiness, and your creative goals the point of your day. All the other stuff is white noise.

9 thoughts on “If you can’t change the stuff you hate, at least change the stuff you can control.

  1. Sounds like you’re laying the perfect amount of seeds that will pay off in the future. I tend to like working on one project at a time, but even though I only have one WIP, I always have something to work on with my other books, social media, etc. There’s never a dull moment when it comes to writing, I find. Well, except maybe when I’m reading my final product backwards to look for errors…

    • Yeah, and by ‘future’, I’m willing to wait 3-4 years for some of these to reach their best fruition. Gotta be patient, I guess ;)

      I think it’s fine to have one Big Project that oversees all others, and Paradisa is still *that* for me. It still comes first. If I only have 800 words in my today, they’re going to go to Paradisa unless I absolutely don’t want to look at the manuscript anymore, and then I’ll direct them towards one of my shorts. But that’s only a half hour out of my day – what about the other seven hours I have each evening, you know? I was sure I could do something useful with those and indeed, I can.

      Social media is a huge plus for a writer, and it does take a lot of time! I’m going to have to schedule myself some self promotion time in the coming months as well. If only just to research how the heck SEO works…

  2. Great post, Michelle. It’s easy to fall into the trap of getting burned out when you force yourself to focus on one thing for so long. Sounds like you have a plan. Live it up and enjoy. I’m envious of all your talent. Oh and I totally rock the drums on Rockband. Love it :)

    • I wouldn’t call it talent so much as a frantic scatterbrain with the oxymoronic compulsion to be organized, haha. I probably spend more time making charts planning out my creative projects than I actually spend working on them!

      I’m also very experimental, so that’s no guarantee that my ambitions will actually pan out into anything. But I like to try new stuff, I like to tinker. Maybe I’m a crap animator – who knows until I try?

      I am slowly becoming adequate at the digital drums :P Stuff with a steady beat is easy. Stuff by say, The Who, is all over the place, but I guess that’s why Keith Moon was one of the best.

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