Published: Thursday January 1, 2015.
There’s an app on my phone called Commit. Every day at 4pm it asks me:
Are you going to write 500 words today?
Aside from the opt-in passive aggressiveness that I’ve signed up for, it’s an annoyance. It’s a pertinent reminder that one of the somethings I want to achieve requires me to do a bunch of work. Every day. Whether I like it or not. And I don’t, right now.
I’ve started writing my first book. The first draft should be complete by the end of June 2015, then there’ll be some editing, and it’ll be available to buy from the autumn/fall in about September time.
This Commit app was an impulse purchase, which is rare for me, and the first thing I set up was a reminder to write
800 500 words a day. An arbitrary number of things done in a set timeframe is the opposite of rare for me. Writing any words about non-work things has been pretty tricky of late, mostly due to lack of anything coherent to share.
I think about this website regularly. I recall how the front page is effectively a placeholder with a couple of links for more tech-savvy folks to find out what’s inside. I ponder how I want it to look and feel, and the best approach to get to that point. Then I look at the corner I’ve managed to paint myself into and wonder how I should tiptoe out of it without getting painty feet.
I have memories of a well-intentioned blog post each January 1st in which I post some plans and aspirations for the year, full of posturing and jingoism. The truth is this year I have those same lofty intentions, but I’m going to quietly get on with things instead. The irony of me telling you about not actually telling you anything is not lost of me.
Winter is always hard for me. The cold doesn’t bother me in the slightest, and with my new-ish housemate and her cold feet (literally, not figuratively) means I rarely get chilly. I’m wearing a t-shirt for as I type this, and I’ve got bare feet. I’m at about 350 words on this post and I’ve run out of steam on this angle.
Ten minutes went by in-between the last two sentences. I’m looking at a newly-rebuilt computer that took me a couple of days of work during the holiday period dead zone. I do this every couple of years, mostly for my own sanity but partly down to me streamlining my work. I figure that I spend most of my day staring a glowing screen, so I should make it as bearable as possible.
I’ve noticed an immediate difference from the computer that was to the computer that currently is. Two weeks ago before this process began, I had 122 things in my Applications folder (Mac OS 10.10 [Yosemite, if you prefer]). For a long time, I considered this the minimum of what I needed to get by. I don’t maintain needless stuff, and the adage of only keeping useful and/or beautiful things is especially true for my computer.
Rather than trim back what was unnecessary, I decided to nuke and start over. Actually, that’s not entirely correct; I chose to backup fastidiously, then nuke and start over. Had I declared digital bankruptcy and started from bare metal, the whole process would’ve taken two hours instead of two days, and I’d be out of business.
As it happens, the computer equivalent of a roofing strip-and-retile was enormously helpful. My music library has been trimmed to half its previous size, thanks to some judicious trimming and changes in musical taste, and what I considered my 122 essential applications were restored to factory defaults (I didn’t note the actual number) before I started adding applications back in as I need them. Right now, the total is 88 – about a third less than before.
Going cold turkey was the best way to be objective about it; installing things on a need to have basis has been tremendously helpful. Sure, it’s a drastic measure, but the effect is entirely worth it. My 4-year old computer whizzes along nicely, and unless I have a drastic career change it should be perfectly happy for the medium term. My book isn’t going to write itself, after all.
And yes, Commit, I have written 500 words today. Thanks for asking.