Monday, January 09, 2006

Net Effect

Last year, I posted about how I used to get so much more done and be so much more creative. In the "old days," I had a full-time job, yet I still managed to be in two regularly gigging bands (writing all the music for one of them and a fair amount for the other). When I went part-time at my job, I took piano lessons and played in a band, in addition to cycling a few dozen miles every week and working out at a local health club.

In that long ago post, I conjectured that my decline in creativity was tied to the fact that I was drinking more frequently than I used to, so I adopted a straight-edge lifestyle for a while. While that experiment was beneficial in a lot of ways, it didn't necessarily help boost my creativity. Even though I don't have to try to fit time in around a full time job now, I'm still not being as productive as I was when I was racing with the rats.

Like many folks, I try to come up with some useful resolutions at the coming of each new year, and one of mine for 2006 was to figure out how to be more creatively productive -- write more, compose more, read more -- and identify obstacles to those aims.

And then it hit me. The reason, I believe, that I was more productive in my younger days is simple. I had no computer! In fact, for some of the period that I reflected back on, the Internet itself did not exist, at least not as people think of it now.

It is absolutely amazing how much time I spend in front of this damn thing. And the "net effect," as it were, leads to scenes like this:

I won't go into what I spend my time futzing around with, because it's not important. And I mean that in every way. It's not important to relate, and the things I occupy myself with aren't important, either. Okay, I'll give you one example, to illustrate how mindless my computing time is: I spend a lot of time playing "Spider solitaire." The medium level, which is just enough to be challenging, but not so hard as to be frustrating. Folks, that's just pathetic.

So, this is my resolution: one hour of mindless computing per day. Beyond that, when I spend time in front of the computer, I must have a productive purpose for doing so -- checking e-mail, firing up the home studio, researching a writing topic. (I would include blog updates in the "productive purpose" category.) Because all work and no play makes Jack a bat-shit-insane son-of-a-bitch, I will allow myself one hour a day to go on-line and play -- mostly because I'd DIE without being able to watch Homestar every Monday or "The Daily Show" clips. But one hour a day is it.

This, I hope, will force me to fill my time in better ways -- exercise, composing, hell even taking the dog for additional walks would be a better use of time.

It'll be hard at first, I know. I'm probably as accustomed to reading articles about the Chicago Bears as I am to drinking coffee, and that's saying something. But like many artists, I must fool myself into working. That, or be threatened with starvation, bodily harm or a deadline.

Anyway, wish me luck!


tavia said...

My dear brother, you have discovered the "I don't have to" effect. We all get the most done when we have the most to do. The less we are forced to structure each task, the fewer tasks we accomplish, because we don't have to do it right now. ....and gettin' old don't help.

Andrew said...

You are absolutely right, dear sister. I'm really good under deadline, and really inert without one. Argotnaut insists that self-imposed deadlines don't work, and she might be right about that. She has suggested I book a gig three months from now, even though we are not in a rock band currently. "You'd be surprised how fast things happen then." True, I'm sure.

I refuse to acknowledge the possiblity that getting older has anything to do with it. I know plenty of vigorous older folks. They just have deadlines. Like death. That's what I tell myself, anyway.

Perhaps I should write a song a week, and withhold my microbrew allotment until I make my quota. Hmmm.....

argotnaut said...

Hey, howscome you used a picture of _me_ slouching to illustrate _your_ shiftlessness? It was the last weekend of break! I'm allowed!

That Eric guy... said...

How many times do you need to be reminded of the wise words of Mr Henry Rollins, (and I quote):

"Don't talk about it, DO IT !!"

or as Henry also emphasized:


you can analize it all you want, this is the bottom line.

Yoda said...

" Do, or do not"

Tavia said...

If withholding the beer is your motivation, you like beer too much!!!
....on a completely different note, can you make those word verification things shorter please??????

liz said...

I think you are right about the whole computer time-sucking business.
Also, as far as self-imposed deadlines, some can, some can't.
TheLimey can, I used to not be able to, and now I *somewhat*-can (qualified, and only after 5 years of high-intensity academic insanity).
So it does seem to be learnable at any rate. Just not a fast enough rate for me.

Tavia said...

And the "death is a deadline" thing? Total failure as a motivator.