I need to fix the lighting in my lightbox. Within my mental checklist(s), however, this task has such a low priority that even if all the lights fall over the next few months there will be no significant impact to myself or my projects. I’ve put time sinks like photography for “The Story” on-hold for higher priority tasks, including writing daily, Seattle Indies writing, and Keyboard Kommander development, with my highest-priority task being moving “Zeal.”
Until I’ve relocated, I’ll focus my essays here on my moving process.
Spending my time moving does outwardly delay progress on writing “The Story,” but rest assured, I still think about “The Story” throughout the day. Currently, the main two scenes that float around are (when Trishna and John talk via Messe about how much they like each and John’s recovery from “The Scene.”) Capturing the emotional depth of these scenes necessitates a level of fiction writing where I could naturally express those scenes, just like I can naturally express my thoughts on, say, moving. Deprioritizing my time spent writing fiction, along with engaging in some hobbies, might lead to slower progress in that regard.
But, the moving process must happen first.
Since I will not be able to write “The Story” in this current location, which I’ve dubbed Zeal for its alliteration to Zombiepaper, and somewhat to Better Zombie, the writing process is a lower priority than the moving process. The brainstorming process for “The Story” is still my highest priority overall, surpassing all work for any other source, but that can be done anywhere.
I know what I’ve written so far has been fairly abstract.
To explain: I think of life in terms of Layers of Abstraction. Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or the OSI Model, when we validate the lower levels of abstraction are good, we can focus on more advanced topics. If writing “The Story” is my highest priority, or, the most advanced layer of abstraction, then I must ensure that all other aspects that could affect this writing are resolved first. I write these essays here and abroad so that I can practice writing and refine my style. Everything I own should enrich my life somehow. Everything else is a potential obstruction preventing me from writing.
But, operating with that level of determination is not healthy.
We procrastinate when the work gets too daunting. I’m currently in the middle of writing a talk for IGDA. This has been my main writing priority for a few days now, but I’ve only outwardly spent a few hours working on it. I have the structure in place. I’ve just been needing to clear the mental clutter in my head so that I can “sling thousands of words of text in my head for a few hours,” as I described it in a recent status update.
When I clicked “Add New” to start this essay in WordPress, I had 22 tabs open.
When I began writing, I had 18 tabs open. Now I have 13.
I reached 500 words, but I still have some thoughts to explore before concluding this essay, so let me break format a little and continue on for a bit.
I think clutter begins when we get distracted. I’ve been insanely productive these past few days, as I usually am unless I’m feeling physically or mentally unwell. We’ve made significant progress on Keyboard Kommander and the work I’m proposing for Seattle Indies/IGDA will yield some really positive results. Some of the work is easier than others, so I’m more likely to tackle some easy distraction. During a recent show, I was obsessing over typefaces, so that mentally became the highest priority thing. I expressed it in something that may/should appear soon, and now it’s done.
That’s how I operate typically.
Within my usual profession of tech support, let’s say there are 22 tasks to address when you get into work. How do you prioritize everything? If you manage the task queue, you skim over all 22 tasks. Let’s say 9 should go to different departments. You assign them out and focus on the 13 remaining tasks. There’s a high priority one that without question needs immediate attention. That task is like the thought that just popped into my mind for something that will come up in January.
Send that one off right away.
Since this is a hypothetical system, I can comment on the notion that this system is also prone to having duplicate tasks appear that obscure the true workloads. Rather than having 12 tasks left, one was a duplicate, there are actually only 11 tasks remaining. That was confusing and I’m not sure how better to write it, so I apologize it was tricky to read or understand.
That’s the nature of clutter. We have 11 tasks remaining.
In another comment, this current scenario was honestly just an analogy for me clearing up all the distractions and tasks on my plate. I need to make progress on this essay and restart my computer, then clear out some clutter to move later on this afternoon, so I wanted to take this extra time to explore this layer of abstraction because there were all these roadblocks in my way. Each of these distractions might be a way for our brain to say “I need a break” from a current situation. I don’t tend to take breaks when I’m in the middle of a writing process, stopping only for biological functions, so that could explain the mental fatigue.
However, there is a certain degree of work required to accomplish these activities.
My time writing for the aforementioned external sources is important for my overall career, so they shouldn’t be deferred like my fiction writing. Besides, by my estimates, 80% of fiction writing is using the same skills as nonfiction writing, it’s just that remaining 20% deals more forthrightly with the current tense and with imaginary characters. Journalistic endeavors still progress “The Story.”
Through this essay, I’ve mentally processed all that digital clutter.
Now I can focus on that essay, spend some time to declutter, and maybe eventually, glue those light strips back into place.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: Clearing out anything enabling me to procrastinate.|
|Related: Other Moving Zeal essays.|
– Above: Lightbox with flash
– Below: Lightbox without flash
|Written On: November 23rd [1 hour]|
|Last Edited: First draft; final draft.|