0660 – acknowledge the monkey-mind

This will be word vomit 0660 and I’m getting started on it on a Sunday morning at 1150am. Now this is starting to feel good. A part of me is tempted to go downstairs and get some coffee, but I think I’m just going to focus on getting the writing done first. I want to do 3 vomits every morning. This is the second of today’s series. It’s like working out. I’m on my second set. I want to complete 3 sets every day. It’s just the commitment that I’ve made to myself as a writer, and it will allow me to breathe a little easier, knowing that one part of my life is a little less full of shit. Then once I make this a foothold, I can systematically reduce bullshit elsewhere in my life. Having written 1.1 vomits so far, I’m now thinking about how I’d like to work out after this is done. Isn’t it funny how that works? Admiral McRaven talked about this in his commencement speech, when talking about the virtue of making your bed. It’s just one small task that, when completed, gets the ball rolling, and gives you the confidence you need to believe and know that you can do another. And another. I have successfully written a word vomit in the morning without any distractions, without doing anything else (apart from feeding my cats and going to pee). If I can do that, what else can I do? I can write another one? Sure.

My overthinking drive kicks in at this point and says things like, “why don’t you just keep writing? Maybe you could do 40 in a single day!” Slow down, Satan. My record for most word vomits done in a single day, if I remember correctly, is 15. (Which were those again? I’m tempted to go check them out. I shall add a todo.)

But see, this is the odd way in which my brain tends to work. It races to extremes. It tries to get excited about doing something big, something bold, something all at once. [1] But I’ve been learning over the years that if you want to really do something good, something really big and bold, you’re going to have to do it in bits and pieces day after day after day. This seems boring and disappointing to the monkey-child mind, but it’s actually quite liberating, interesting and exciting to the adult mind. I want to grow up, I want to be a full adult, I want to be mature and respectable as a person so that I can be childlike and irreverent in my work. I keep saying those things because it feels good to say it, but the point is that I need to do the work required in order to achieve it.

(Here I found myself thinking about something somebody tweeted about the recent archetype of ‘former teenage rebels in positions of responsibility’ in media, and I was tempted to look it up.)

What’s next? I guess this vomit is now about the nature of my monkey mind and how it really jumps around, from thing to thing, looking for shiny things, looking for distractions. And I can’t really begrudge it for that, but I have to acknowledge that that’s how it is. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like with a child. I need to wake up to this idea that I DO live with a child – who lives inside my own brain. Sometimes it throws tantrums. I think we’ve generally improved upon our relationship in the past few years, but I’d like to really take it to the next level. I’d like to have one of those trust-fall type relationships, where we can both really trust teach other to take care of things because life is just so goddamn exhausting when you can’t trust yourself.

I need to make this a part of my reviews. [todo added]

How shall we end this? The central point here is akin to what Tim Urban described in Wait But Why’s post about procrastination. It’s all about knowing and understanding the monkey. And being kind to the monkey. Loving the monkey. And yet not entirely indulging the monkey. That’s called being an adult. That’s the textbook definition of growing up. Nobody else can look inside your head and see precisely how crazy your monkey is. I think I have an unusually crazy monkey. My monkey’s like 90th or 95th percentile crazy. But life isn’t a comparative suffering game. And there are benefits to having a crazy monkey once you know how to manage it right. It’s a source of creativity and insight. You just need to keep him from sniffing glue. That’s not too hard, right? That’s not too hard at all.

[1] “Let’s write 40,000 words in a day.” First of all, is that possible? I know it takes me about 15-20 minutes to do 1,000. So let’s say that’s 3,000/hr. 10 hours would be 30,000. It would take 14 hours. Yeah, 40,000 is probably possible but I would have to be seriously strategic about it. I would have to have my meals all planned out, I would have to have no distractions, and I would have to have all my cues set up so that I’d be able to to go through them systematically, without wasting time in between thinking things like “oh, but what do I write next?”

Hypothetically then it’s possible to write a novel in a day if you plan everything out just so. But of course it’ll take many more days to do all the editing and so on.

I wonder now if I’d like to try and finish my word vomit project with a bang, maybe in the last 50,000 stretch. I could live-stream it or something. That actually would be pretty cool. I would probably literally injure my fingers from all that typing though. Which, again, oddly sounds a little fun to me. I’m a weird person that way.

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