One Task October

Derek Finch - a tale of two storms.jpg
A Tale of Two Storms by Derek Finch on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons licence

We’ve had a storm here for the last four days. It kind of matched my mood. For reasons, September was much less productive than it should have been. I don’t want to even tell you my word count, because it sucked. I got really stuck on one of the two short stories I wrote for the Goodreads BDSM Group’s Kink in Ink event. It shouldn’t have taken a month to write fewer than 7,000 words, and yet this is a thing that happened.

One of those reasons was having my left upper back molar give up the ghost against a vicious bacterial infection and make me feel like my face was being hit with a sledgehammer for a week. It’s dead now. The tooth, not my face. I ended up having to get a root canal. Whee! I totally could not afford that, but at least the drugs were good.

Andres Rueda, Syeringe with Blue liquid, flickr.jpg
It was the first time I haven’t cried at the dentist, thanks to a traumatic childhood extraction of my four eye teeth with no anaesthetic. Photo by Andres Rueda on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Licence.

And at least both stories are finished now. One is m/m gun play, and the other is m/f. M/f , you say? I know, right?  All feedback will be appreciated, because it’s a newish thing for me. I have an m/f romance novella on Amazon too (not as M. Caspian), but no-one has reviewed it (barely anyone has read it). I’ll let you know when the stories are released. Initially you’d have to join the BDSM group to read them, but I’m going to put them both out on Amazon in December. I’m thinking of doing a book of short stories. I have the prequel to Arroyo in rough draft, so maybe that would be good motivation to polish it up.

So my goal for October is to be much more focused and productive. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has a great list of strategies to help with focus.The most important – at least, the one I need to work on the most – is:

  • Get going on your task. Do nothing but that one task. Don’t switch to another task.

I switch tasks a lot (hence why I have to write down the task I’m supposed to be doing at any one time.) If I don’t keep rigid focus I shake myself from an internet daze and discover I’m researching the history of Saint Benedict (this happened today and derailed me for an hour).

But getting sidetracked is nothing compared to my biggest flaw: listening to YouTube Let’s Plays while I work. As I write this I’m listening to Morphologis play Osiris: New Dawn (which, frankly, is the game No Man’s Sky should have been. Sandworms, people, sandworms! And giant arachnoids!)

So I’m making October “One Task October.” I have way more than one project underway, but I’m going to pay attention to my focus, and just work on one project at a time, and only work on that one project while I do it. And not listen to You Tube AT ALL (I’m allowed to finish listening to New Dawn first, though, right? Please?) And I’m committing to this in front of y’all so if I do not have new books out before the end of the year I need for you to chastise me.

Have you got any hints for keeping my flitting brain on task?


4 thoughts on “One Task October

  1. Michal, I’ve been there. So way there. You need to take a week off. Entirely off. If you can, go someplace else (even on your island). See if a friend or a Couchsurfing host will let you bunk for a few days.

    By your own admission, you’ve been on the go, kicking duty’s ass since your early 20s. Now suddenly your situation’s changed and you “only” have to meet self imposed goals. I suspect your insides are saying, nope. We need a break. Let us breathe for a bit first. You keep pushing, they push back. Toothache party? Yeah, that’s not entirely coincidence.

    In my experience, instead of scrambling for better ways to push yourself to get shit done, you need to give in and get nothing done. That’s what your insides need. They will reward you for it. Let them be off duty for a bit. Totally and completely off duty. Give yourself a new start date. Then buckle down on that date and let the word count mount.

    1. Wow. Off duty?! . . . Completely off duty??! For an entire week??! I can see the l0gic; I might need some time to digest this concept. Consider me officially contemplating.

  2. I am TOTALLY not the person to give tips on keeping one’s mind focused. Usually I have to be doing multiple things to manage that – and that’s generally not compatible with writing. (Knitting to focus on watching a movie, doodling to focus on listening in a meeting, etc.) But if I get deeply into something, I can focus completely – for example, I rarely listen to music while I make art because the music becomes a distraction.

    Maybe change your listening from the YouTube gaming vids to something that facilitates your thinking instead of hindering it? I’ve had some luck at work listening to sort of orderly jazz without words, such as Cafe Montmarte by Stan Getz.

    1. You make good points. I have a bunch of tracks to listen to while to write. Sometimes Let’s Plays are really good. Osiris New Dawn is a resource management game, so there’s no plot, just a soothing voice debating quietly to themselves if they should mine aluminum, collect chlorine gas, or search for gold. It’s like listening to a track of a coffee shop, with burbling voices that fade into white noise. Anyway, I lock myself out of YouTube until 6pm each day. I’m learning to enjoy silence more, recently.

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