“Start writing” is the prompt on my WordPress blog entry. Sure. That’s just the hardest part, starting. Well for most people. For myself, starting has never been the hardest part, I’ve started more things than I care to remember. I’ve started dozens of writing projects like short stories, books, poems, blogs, and have only finished a small percentage of them. I’ve started diets and workout programs and I still look like a potato.
No, my problem isn’t starting, and it’s not committing either. I’m in a 20 plus year relationship with my wife, I started teaching nine years ago but my path to becoming a teacher started eight years before that, taking night and weekend classes. I have three kids, the ultimate commitment. And anybody who tells you it’s only 18 years is a scrub.
My problem is consistency. I get distracted. I have ADD, and while I’ve learned how to cope, I still have problems. Especially when things get hard. When I hit that plateau, when you need to double down and try harder, or try better, it’s all too easy to become distracted by something else. To be bamboozled by social media. To be led astray by well meaning family. To allow your mind to run amok (Amok! Amok! Amok!). And it’s just so easy to let it happen. Like finding two quotes from movies in the 90s to use in a blog, for a random example.
I wish I knew why it was so easy for me to give up on things. I’m sure I could blame lots of things: my parents, my wife, my kids, my ADD, Satan, but whatever the influence I am the one that makes that choice, and I almost always choose the easy path. When this virus started, I thought, ‘Now’s your moment. You’ll be stuck inside with little to do besides house stuff. Finish your book(s), get in shape, eat better!’ We even made a bucket list that we thought we could get to. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how much of that happened. I think most of us have figured out that doing things at this time are not as easy as we thought, even the every day stuff. I did finish the game I started six months ago, though! It only took me 67 hours.
67 hours, over the course of six months. Ten and a half hours a month, over two hours a week, on this one game. And no, that was not the only game I played in that time frame. There was Zelda, BotW, twice. And Facebook. And Netflix. I don’t even want to know how many hours I’ve spent looking at a screen and not writing, or working on developing better lessons for my students, or exercising. Because then I would know exactly how lazy I’ve been. I would be able to quantify my sloth with an actual number, and that would be hard.
I know I’ve done this a dozen times too. I’ve said, “That’s it! It’s time to get serious!” To make a pledge to forsake easy distractions and DO ALL THE THINGS! WRITE MOAR! EXERCISE MOAR! MOAR LESSONS!! AND HAVE ALL THE SEX!!! But I know it won’t work. It never has. Except with getting my degree. And keeping my wife. And raising my kids (though they definitely don’t help with staying on task). Those are buckets I have filled. Like I said, commitment isn’t my problem, and neither is starting. I might get knocked down, or thrown off course, but I always get back up, adjust my heading, and start again. Who knows, maybe this will be time it will work. I did quit smoking after all, it only took a dozen tries, and a lot of help from my family.
I know I can’t just quit all the distractions, in fact that’s not healthy either. But I can cut back. Spend less time on social media, less time playing games, and more time on myself and my family. It’s been hard during this outbreak. I know that the impulse to wallow in how terrible the state of the world is is sometimes overwhelming, and that’s okay too. To start (or continue) doing something when it feels like the world is crumbling around you can be tantamount to trying to put a house fire out with a bucket. However, with the right brigade, you have a chance. You just have to ask, even if it might inconvenience them, they’ll help you fill buckets and cheer you on. If we all pitch in, maybe, just maybe, we can put out this dumpster fire of a year. My brigade is pretty awesome, even if some of them are short and eat their boogers.