After last week’s illness I’m now feeling better and am mostly mucus-free (other than having to clear my flemmy throat every few minutes like the old man I will one day become). It’s amazing how you forget how good feeling good feels. Did I have this much energy pre-sickness? That can’t be right because I’m pretty sure I remember feeling tired all the time. Either way, I’m riding this post sickness rejuvenation for as long as I can which I’m guessing will be about one full work week, no doubt by then I’ll be back to being tired and bitter and not this peppy annoyance the Lady Holly is currently putting up with (who is now also sick thanks to yours truly).
Until then I’ve used this seemingly surplus energy to come up with a plan for future-tired-me that will see him maintain the lifestyle of the current-peppy-me. I’m calling it a June Retune, because the timeline for this plan will last to the end of June, and because I like creating names that rhyme. Basically the June Retune is a diet/exercise/writing regiment that I will stick to for the thirty days that make up June. The rules of this plan aren’t too harsh, to be honest they’re aimed at being fairly sustainable. The current aim is if I manage the plan easily enough I’ll continue on into a July Retune (although obviously I’d have to rename it to something that rhymes, July Solidify maybe?). Here’s what I’m asking of myself: No snacking – something I’ve been indulging in a lot lately, no doubt trying to fatten up for a winter hibernation, Minimal alcohol – mostly because during good beer week I drank a month’s supply of beer anyway, exercise everyday – nothing too crazy, just twenty minutes or so and only on days when I don’t ride to work, visit the quagmire of facebook only once a day and only for a maximum of half an hour – that one’s fairly self explanatory, and of course stick to my writing schedule – which at the moment is an hour in the morning before work, an hour after work, any time I can sneak in at work, and a three hour block (or more if possible) on the weekend.
Like I said fairly manageable, especially when I just need to maintain it for thirty days, the main thing is to stick to it; which is the final point of the plan. No excuse, no justifications, just FTDP (follow the damn plan – thanks to The Lady Holly for providing the initialism, and thanks to Brother Jonathan for pointing out the difference between an acronym and an initialism).
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about input and output. In order to produce a creative output (be it writing, drawing, dancing, knitting, dog grooming etc.) I think you must first put in a lot of informational input. For myself this mostly comes from reading. Reading anything. Books, blogs, scripts, articles, research papers, and so on. I know I have a lot of input, sometimes I worry too much input. Throughout the day I’m almost in a constant state of informational input. I listen to audiobooks on my way to and from work. I read a bunch of stuff in any downtime I have. When I’m home I watch TV, browse the internet, and read. When I’m in the bathroom I read a book from my phone. All day my brain is being swamped with input. Which for the most part is a good thing. I’m providing my brain with a wealth of different information so when it comes to the output stage I have a lot of points to draw on. Using these points, connecting together seemingly unconnected things, and weaving something new, is to me what creative output is. It’s what art is. So all that’s fine, but I’m starting to think there’s a third step. A middle step. Analyse. This is where I think I fall short, and it comes back to bite me in the arse when it comes time for output. Without properly analysing the input I sit at my laptop, watch the minutes tick by, and bash my head to get it to think of what to write next. I know I’ve got a lot of points in my brain, I know I’ve saturated it with input, hell, it should have plenty just from near thirty years of living, but the dots aren’t connecting because they haven’t been analysed. The tricky part is how to analyse and when to analyse. Thanks to my smartphone and the internet it’s easy to distract myself, to never be bored, and in turn never give myself time to analyse, just continually put in more input. Maybe that’s the key, reduce my input. Ride to work one day without any kind of stimulation. Eat lunch without looking at my phone. Go to the bathroom and just go to the bathroom. Set aside ten minutes at the end of each day to do nothing. Create input free time. Because ultimately without analysing the input goes to waste.
In fact I came up with this whole theory, i.e. the output you’ve just read, while in the shower; one of the few input free times I have left.
The annoying part is there’s just so much good input out there.
The challenge continues, and we’re better off for it.