The time is 3:37 and I’m wide awake. This may have something to do with the fact that I slept in until noon yesterday. It may have something to do with my habit of sticking something on YouTube to fall asleep to – this doesn’t really work when the video in question is intensely cringe inducing (It’s this video, if you’re curious). This is the first time in a good long while that I’ve felt like doing something productive at such a late, or early, hour. But I’m here now, knocking out a blog post for the first time in ages. You can thank my Sword Art Online rant, and the housemate who got me into rereading it, for my rekindled interest.
So why don’t we kick this off by one of my trademark worry sessions? Yes, let’s.
I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about my productivity. Well, moreso than usual. The fact is that it’s hard to focus my attention on a productive activity for an extended period of time – no matter how much I may actually enjoy said activity. If you want evidence of that, look no further than this blog. My last post was in November of last year. The WordPress publishing end has gone through a redesign since the last time I sat down and thought, “I should write something”. That post, by the way, was related to a video project that I’ve yet to finish. I did two weeks of solid work on it and then just… stopped.
There seems to be a point in any voluntary work I do where the struggle becomes less about coming up with new ideas, and more to do with battling against my own mental blocks. It really feels like there’s an actual physical barrier. I get drowsy and bored just thinking about the work. Even when I force myself to do the work, my mind is in a constant wandering state. In this condition, I work at maybe 10 percent capacity. And it’s not because I don’t want to do the thing. It’s like I can’t.
Take my YouTube channel, for example. I coined the title “Fun Punditry” because I planned to post frequent video reviews and criticism. Y’know, punditry like what pundits do.
Fun Punditry has been running for over seven months now. In that time, I’ve made 22 videos and gained, at the time of writing, 534 subscribers. Not awful for a hobby, but let’s break down what kind of videos I’ve made:
1 Channel Intro video
1 Channel news video
14 TV Intro mashups
Are you noticing a pattern? With only two exceptions, I haven’t published more than one of any type of video. In seven months.
Now, hang on, I (pretend to) hear you say. What about that fourteen? Is that not a fairly regular feature, averaging out at two per month? Well, yes and no. They essentially amount to After Effects experiments. There’s a few drawbacks to that: for one thing, I’m using other properties in a way that, while almost certainly falling under fair use, is far too troublesome to consider doing for actual money were I ever to make YouTube more than just a hobby. The other major issue is that even with the amount of great suggestions I get, I just can’t churn out workable ideas at a consistent clip.
In spite of that, this type of experimentation challenges me in a way that makes almost every video feel fresh. I haven’t run into that barrier. At least, that is, until recently.
Project B.E.A.S.T. Enterprise is not the most difficult video I’ve produced. Not by a long shot. Still, it took me over a month to make. A lot of that month, admittedly, was spent not making the video. I don’t really have any excuse for that. I wasn’t all that busy for most of that time.
I wrote in about these concerns to the Giant Beastcast. If you’re not familiar, they’re the New York-based half of gaming personality website giantbomb.com. Today I downloaded the latest episode, skipped to the emails section to make sure, and… yep, there it was, the first one. Feels good!
The response that most stood out to me was this, by Alex Navarro: “You have to be willing to be accountable to yourself.” Not just setting deadlines, but sticking to them and establishing consequence.
As they pointed out, that’s not easy, especially not for voluntary activity. But I think that’s some solid advice. I’m going to have to set something up.
How about this: The deadline on my next blog post is… tomorrow. Yeah, I think I can knock another one out by tomorrow. I’ve got a lot on my mind. If I don’t do it? I don’t get to buy any yogurt for a week.
…I maybe need to think of some better punishments.