Writing When All Plans Fail
The Best Laid Plans Of Labrats…
So… nothing this week has gone to plan. Second week of getting back into writing, and after the way last week ended early, I was dealing with a lot of hard truth moments in regards to my neurosis and my inability to really compromise with it. I went into this week with a plan, one that looked really good on paper.
The main idea is to switch to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule so that I could use Tuesday, Thursday, and the weekend as buffer days to prevent me from falling into my obsessive patterns. And that I would need to fill those buffer days with non-work related tasks, creating a schedule or a list of these safe projects that I know don’t trigger this pattern centric aspect of my brain. If I can find a way to ensure that I can’t work the second I wake up after falling asleep working, I thought I could break the dangerous cycle and force myself to return to the waking world.
There are some other things, probably just as important. Giving myself a task shut off time, and a bed time. Locking my laptop in a different room so I couldn’t just grab it and start working in the middle of the night (as I do.) I know that if I’m doing a task when I start to get tired, it’s so much harder for me to pull away, especially if I’ve been doing that task all day. (6am writing this — 7 am editing — so as we can all see, my task shut off time and bedtime have both failed tonight, and I sure as fuck didn’t lock my laptop away.) But the hope was if I could stop myself before my brain became stronger than my will, I could prevent the cycle from repeating.
Shit Went Wrong
To be fair, it’s still a good goal, it just didn’t happen this week.
Monday I realized the fabric covered cardboard storage chest I bought about a month ago didn’t actually get rid of the dust mites it was filled with when I steam cleaned it the day before, and after having an amazing allergy attack, I spent the day washing all my linens and spray painting the chest, hoping that might seal the little buggers away. And then, after some thinking on it, I started to wonder if I should be treating for dust mites or considering mold, seeing as out of the two infesting cardboard, mold was the most likely culprit.
Frustrated, and not wanting to lose the day completely, I thought I might check out AI art between coats of paint. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot as my vision issues get worse and making digital art becomes so destructive to my eyes. AI art seems like this bridge, this tool that could give me something back. I could edit and filter art into a book cover if it’s a high enough quality starting out… maybe. >_> But when I went to try the discord one, midjourney, I ran into a problem beyond the horrible scrolling that was such a strain on my eyes.
The addictive pattern part of my brain was triggered as I kept feeding prompts in trying to get results. It was gambling combined with problem solving, and peeps, if you don’t understand that the most dangerous aspect of my brain is that its default is a sharp toothed predator of problems looking to tear them to pieces and build a beautiful, blood soaked answer out of the bones, this fucking system sure did. Everything about making art is problem solving, and adding in AI gambling to spit out random images that may or may not fit the goal didn’t change this for me. It just made the cause and effect for bigger issues faster, not allowing me to focus on an end goal since there was no process to follow and close poor paths off like one does with making art by hand.
There were too many paths, and my brain needs to map everything before it can map a single point. That’s a big issue with my default type of learning; I need more data to see the big picture, which then allows me to see the details. Yeah, it’s helpful to get multiple vantages and understand a topic fully, in context with so much more. But when the data is too great to take in all at once, it’s overwhelm, and a problem solving loop of misery as I try to talk myself into figuring out how to have it not be overwhelm, creating more overwhelm.
Needless to say, after starting multiple accounts to play with the free version for hours straight, I knew it was too dangerous for me, another possibility of getting back into making digital art cut off because of this neurotic fuck of a brain of mine. And yeah, it’s crushing. My vision issues are in a lot of ways a product of how I abuse my eyes when it comes to the shit I obsess over — I am never going to win this.
So Tuesday, I woke up planning to get my allergy shots — you know, fill my day with things that aren’t business focused so I am a full human being instead of defaulting into the last task I did — but because I was up so late fucking around with the AI art, I couldn’t go. My car was needed for someone who actually works a job consistently, and it was getting too dark anyways for me to be able to drive safely. Because my night vision is done now. The lights in the dark make me nauseous and I spend most of my time with my eyes closed and hands covering them when in a car at night.
I felt really defeated. I didn’t have a plan. Honestly, I didn’t want to do the plan I made because there was a mess of a painted chest I couldn’t use reminding me of cash poorly spent, I couldn’t get my new eye glasses — they came in apparently last Friday and I missed the call. Not that it mattered because even though I can mostly drive during the day, I struggle with areas I’m unfamiliar with because of the lack of muscle memory. I was just feeling really shit about myself and having to face these really difficult limits.
So I opened up my laptop, turned to the last story I had been working on, and just started writing. No sprints, no fucks to give on proper editing or anything. I just needed something to throw myself into so I didn’t have to think about all the fucking shit I really don’t want to think about.
It’s why I started writing all those years ago when I first got sick. I had a lot of shit I didn’t want to think about then too.
And yeah, I started feeling better. Because that’s part of the draw of the things that change my thought patterns into simple, restricted designs. There’s no room for doubts or negative emotions. There’s just the task and completing it. Hours slip away, meals are skipped, all social interactions completely neglected. Everything is so much simpler when the human doesn’t get in the way and there’s only the thing to focus on.
Task Addiction Isn’t Trending
I can’t find a proper name for what I have — oh, there are trendy names, you know, the ones that fit nicely into search algorithms like productivity addiction or the old school workaholism, maybe a task completion addiction here and there. But these terms aren’t really helpful because they don’t come with a diagnosis or even a damn handbook. It’s just a weird flex most days, some trope in a story about the executive who keeps giving himself a heart attack because he works too much. There’s very few practical steps to take when you’re trying to find a balance with something that for most abled people just means not working past a 9-5.
There is one part of it I had found a name for some years back and have since forgotten, and it had to do with a faulty kill switch when it came to giving up. I guess most people, when faced with an impossible task or a big challenge, will naturally stop after a certain amount of failed attempts to overcome it. And it’s quaint how people talk about it like it’s a choice, like it’s self awareness to either “try harder” when challenged, or “let go” when never giving up. But I am very fucking aware when I can’t walk away from a task I’m trapped in. My wiring doesn’t care. It’s getting whatever high it’s getting from it, and I am fighting my biology every time I manage to pull away.
The little I found was of the productivity addiction stuff and it’s what I used to build my plan for a new week. I was cautiously hopeful… but not deeply invested in it working. Because it involves my willpower being greater than my neurosis, and I’m pretty sure by definition, neurosis is going to fucking win. And yeah, part of me loves the addiction, especially since it happens over basic shit that leads to a better way of thinking.
Changing is asking me to be something I’m not, sooner rather than later as the way my brain works pushes me to break every damn time. And the depression sure as fuck isn’t adding anything useful into the mix. That’s been something coming on strong, in waves, month in and out, since about… fuck, it started after my teeth were pulled and the meds had an impact on my adrenals. But I don’t think the low cortisol is the cause at this point, just a lot of different things all leaving the same unhappy chemical result…
The Point? Brains are stupid.
I don’t even know why I’m writing this. Maybe just to show that yeah, I had a shit couple of days, was feeling really low, yet still managed to write about 4500 words in the story I was working on today and I didn’t have to solve all the deep fucking issues of my brain, disabilities, and situation to be allowed to do it.
And maybe the consequences aren’t that dire — fuck, I’m going to drop dead eventually. Who really cares if I ate chips for dinner? I dunno. I’m too extreme with everything, from fasting months over the summer and then carbing through the winter, to always fighting my sleep cycle that naturally believes morning is the best time to be unconscious, and instead of just accepting that I’m never going to fit whatever fucking ideal I keep thinking is the thing I need to be to get through this, I keep fighting reality.
I’m not okay, and I can still write. And that’s probably going to be most days going forward. It was most days getting to this point before the multi year long break. I just kept expecting something different.
I thought getting past the weird chronic fatigue and brain fog was going to be everything I needed, and then the mold took over the house. Then I thought getting over the screaming face pain was everything I was going to need, and then my brain just flatlined. Now I got my brain back, and hey, it’s still a fucking neurotic mess and I still have to get up and live this imperfect life.
Shit has never gone how I planned, and that shouldn’t be the reason I’m upset. This illusion of control has always been bullshit anyways; I’m just too stubborn to admit it when I’m stuck fighting my brain. The illusion is just so damn tempting, easy, that one single answer in the sea of chaos that my problem solving brain craves.
Would nihilism be better for it? Sure fucking would, but no, it doesn’t want to do that kind of work. There’s no pattern to obsess over in nihilism. It wants the illusion of control with steps to follow when things get difficult, like the dumb fuck it is.
It’s too late to pretend any of this is legible… comprehensible? Whatever words. Tired. Just remember: don’t believe that your brain decides your decisions. Most behavior happens and then the brain swoops in to justify and explain it away like the smug, dumb fuck it is. The brain isn’t the control center; it just plays pilot like a little kid pressing buttons that don’t do anything while the body goes about its routines, uncaring of the steady, usually unkind critique only a superior intellect can so foolishly rationalize spewing.
Also, if you’re not an asshole to yourself, carry on.