I am using Facebook wrong this year

I didn’t make a big deal about leaving social media, mostly because I haven’t actually left. I still check Facebook a few times a week. I still hit twitter and check in on my feeds. I have so many friends who use Facebook chat as their default messaging system that I don’t have the energy to retrain them or myself, and I still Instagram  because I like the way it forces me to pay attention to the world around me.

What I did do, back on January 1st, was remove all the various apps from my phone so I wasn’t using social media twenty-four seven. My access is desk-top only, and since I don’t log in at work, that limits me when it comes to Facebook and Twitter.

That isn’t quitting social media, but holy hell, it feels like it. My average usage has dropped to about 15 minutes a day, which is enough that you suddenly realise how social media has become the dominant communication medium of our time.

Suddenly I have some empathy for those folks who post annoying “I am leaving social media” posts, because dropping out of sight without telling people is actually problematic. Questions are left on walls. Plans are made without your input, because things never come through on the channels you actually monitor. Occasionally, someone will check in to see that you’re still alive, because they haven’t seen you posting much.

My Facebook wall, in particular, has become the digital equivalent of an answering machine. Not even a terribly efficient answering machine, given the set-up of notifications.

This is not the promise of Facebook, which is all about instant access to people. Facebook is meant to make communication easy, which is its great advantage as well as its greatest flaw. Every time I log in, there is a reminder that I am using Facebook wrong. I am, for the record, completely okay with that.

But letting people know that you’re no longer using social media correctly seems like the kind of thing that would save a whole lot of time.

The Inevitable

Every playlist on Youtube finds its way to the Arctic Monkeys. I start off listening to gothic cabaret playlists thirty songs in the autoplay function will kick up Do You Want to Know?

I realise it’s been a long time since I heard a Stiff Little Fingers song, and the algorithm works its way through The Clash and The Buzzcocks and The Sex Pistols before the next logical thing appears to be Do You Want to Know? as well.

Leonard Cohen finds its way to the Arctic Monkeys. Jeff Buckley. Courtney Barnett. The Pixies. David Bowie. Hell, starting with Justin Timberlake or the fucking Spice Girls seems to do it. All of them end at the same place.

I don’t particularly care for the Arctic Monkeys, but I have no way of telling the algorithm to stop it. And so every repeated play tells Youtube that it should bring that clip up a little more. I have no way to fight back against it. It is always there, like a replacement for the Rickroll that no-one has ever told me about.

The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

I start heading into QWC once a week to work on GenreCon this week, in addition to doing my last full week of shifts at the Queensland Health gig and catching up with friends through most of Monday, so I’m actually doing very little creative work in the next seven days. A little short story tinkering will probably take place, but mostly I’m focused on rethinking most of my planning systems to account for the fact that I’ll be working from home a awful after January 31. This brings with it an incredibly high potential for procrastination, and I’d really like to lock down any habits that contribute to that and nip them in the bud.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I picked up a copy of Elmore Leonard’s Fire in the Hole and Other Stories, which is best-known these days for including the titular novelette that eventually became the TV show, Justified. I’m a fan of Leonard’s novels – he’s an great stylists who has a real knack for character and dialogue – but they kinda pale in comparison to what he does at shorter word counts.

What’s really interesting is watching…well, not a formula, but a definite recurring motif in terms of the way he likes to end things…get rolled out alongside an ironic final statement in story after story, to the point where you can predict it happening. It should be incredibly irritating, but it’s become the thing that I really enjoyed looking for.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

I’m intentionally avoiding writing projects for the next week, but I’ve been unintentionally avoiding a bunch of writing-adjacent work like signing contracts and processing email. I really should set aside a few hours to clear the decks before Friday.

The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

Finished a story draft last week, so the bulk of this week is devoted to revision and trying to get it into a readable form

What’s inspiring me this week?

The History of the Devil by William Woods, which is not quite the book I expected it to be when I picked it up on a discount table at my local second-hand bookstore a few year backs. Much of it isn’t really looking at the Devil at all, but the shift from a hunter-gatherer society to agrarian society and how that’s reflected in the beliefs. Incredibly interesting book, and I keep making notes that will probably be short stories one day.

What part of my project an I avoiding?

Part of rewriting the story has involved layering in some new layers on the story, which in turn means that I need to start figuring out what the new ending. Still a couple of ways that it could go, but I need to pick one and build towards it.

Back At The Day-Job Today

Brisbane has, inexplicably, decided to be cold this evening.

Well, not cold, but cool. Chilly enough that I sat out on my balcony in shorts and a t-shirt earlier this evening, intending to make notes while I read, and found myself retreating back into the muggy warmth of the living room.

It will change its mind soon. We will all burn to a crisp before the day is done. Brisbane cannot help itself in the midst of summer.

I was back at the day-job today, beginning the four-week countdown until I finish up my contract and transition into full-time study for the first time in twenty-odd years.

I spent my lunch break trying to put together a draft post about productivity and time management, since the number of conversations I’ve had about my process has reached double-digits in the space of two weeks. It’s an incredibly hard topic to write about, because people mostly ask about the tools rather than the strategic process, and the strategic process is really the valuable bit. Learning how to think about projects, and break them down, and pay attention to the time I’ve got available rather than the time I think I’ve got.

When you get right down to it, bullet journals and white boards and my obsession with Trello are just the equivalent of being given a hammer, and learning how to use a hammer is not the same thing as learning to build a house.

It’s better than nothing if you need to cobble together shelter, but you want an architect and plans if you’re going to build something pretty.

Notes from the first day of the year

It’s six o’clock in the evening as I write this, sitting out on the balcony of my tiny apartment listening to the train line and the bird song and the upstairs neighbours drunkenly mispronouncing the words ‘mortar and pestle’ over and over as they talk on the phone. Which makes a nice change from the screaming argument on the street that kicked off the afternoon, reminding me why spending time inside the apartment generally trumps sitting out in the muggy summer heat.

The wind is piking up and the clouds are hanging low. It doesn’t smell like rain yet, but the rain is coming later this week.

This is how we start 2017.

The rest of the day was exactly the kind of productive first day I always want out of a new year and never quite achieve. I wrote the first two scenes of a new novella draft; I read a bunch of things; I acquired new notebooks through nefarious means; I folded laundry; I washed dishes; I cooked food that required prep work and ingredients, rather than simply eating toast or throwing a vegetarian schnitzel into the oven.

I am fretting about getting things done this year. I am wary of slipping into bad habits once I wrap up the current day-job and head off to do the PhD full-time. I know how easy it is to look at a day devoted entirely to study and writing, yet still do very little.

My sole goal for 2017 is to guard against that slippage.