I Know Who I Wanna Bartlebe

I’ve been meaning to write up a post about guilt and the feeling that you should (could) always be doing something, but I am getting around to it now because I read this article last night about people who try and turn every moment into a productive one by always having an audiobook, podcast, or some other edifying material on the go in their headphones. I was going to write it up last night, but I started playing Football Manager, and then I played some Hearthstone, and I didn’t get any writing done. Which, oddly enough, is the crux of this post.

I am very, very fond of doing nothing. However, I live in the 21st century, and that means that I could always be doing something, even when I should be doing nothing. I always have my phone on me, and at the very least, I could always be reading on my phone. I wrote about this, about using your phone as a way of taking a library of classics with you everywhere, and that’s perfectly valid, but I’ve come to the point where if I have a bus journey I spend quietly thinking to myself, I feel like it was time wasted. I could have been reading.

Or at home. I just quietly watch some YouTube videos. I listen to an album. I stare out the window. I could have been writing. And any time I am not writing, or not thinking about writing, I feel guilty.

This is partly a trap of my own making. I work for myself and I work from home. There is the odd external motivation, but largely my motivation has to come from myself, and I have to motivate myself to work within the same context that I relax. There is no work/life balance because there is no fulcrum. I could always be working.

It would be easy to fix, of course. Get off my arse and write, ideally early in the day. Not necessarily with a set target, but just motivate myself over that first hump, and get some work done. Then if I spend the rest of the day playing Football Manager, at least I got some work done.

But there are days I find that difficult, and it seeps into every activity. I can’t fully enjoy playing Football Manager, because I could be writing. If I do write, it wasn’t enough, or it was enough, but it wasn’t of sufficient quality.

Basically I’m saying that you should ideally think about having a real job.

It occurred to me a while ago that a solution to this problem might be to write about videogames. I do like to write about videogames sometimes, but it’s not the meat of my work. It’s a reasonable idea, it would allow my play to have some kind of productive outcome, but there are some problems with it.

The first problem is that it continues to mix work and fun. I’d start only playing games I wanted to write about. I’d continue to feel guilt if I didn’t balance it right.

The second problem is that my audience is largely uninterested in videogames.

The third problem is that I often write fiction, and apart from maybe Ender’s Game (which has its own problems) I can’t think of much good fiction about videogames.

I am reminded of something Picasso said, that painting and fucking do not go together.

To write well, you have to read. To read, you have to, first of all, not be playing videogames (unless it’s Planescape Torment). You also need quiet, contemplative time in which the more subconscious aspects of creativity can work. Videogames fill that quiet time with static.

Basically I advise you to get a real job and a primary hobby that isn’t videogames.

None of this is that big a problem. I am just good at overthinking and treating minor inconveniences as major problems. I still get work done. I still enjoy myself with my hobbies. There are no clear distinctions, but I know plenty of people with real jobs whose personal lives have been messily encroached upon. The 21st century is weird. And that’s not even taking into account that as someone working in a creative field, social media is both necessary and a huge fucking detriment to my work, but I’ll talk about that some other time.

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