0676 – exploit the witching hours (?!)

I was never very good at chess, though I geeked out about it for a little bit when I was a pre-teen. I used to borrow books from the library about it, and play online with strangers. But I never really bothered to dig deep into doing the exercises and study, which is where you really begin to develop mastery. (I find myself thinking now that this is also true for pretty much any skill you want to develop. And if you don’t do the exercises, systemically, you end up plateauing. I’ve been stuck on a musical plateau for several years, for example, because I’ve never really stopped to focus on my weaknesses. This is something I think I should change, because a little bit of focused, directed work at getting better at something yields disproportionately high rewards.)

In chess commentary, ! is used to indicate a seemingly good move, and ? is used to indicate a seemingly bad move. Most interesting is ?!, which is used to indicate a strange move that might either be really good or really bad.

It’s 3:28 AM, Thursday, 6th July 2017. I was quite sleepy last night when I got home from work after having dinner with my wife. And so I showered and went to bed at about 830pm. I read a book for a while, and probably fell asleep at about 915pm. I woke up at 1am, and spent about an hour and a half on Twitter on my phone. Then I tried to go back to sleep, but my mind was a little too active for that to work. So here I am, writing a word vomit at 330am.

Is this a bad idea? Should I have been trying to go back to sleep instead? I don’t know. It seems like a ?! move. There’s a certain stillness about 330am, and it’s especially ‘poignant’ (I think there’s a better word to use but it’s not coming to me right now) when you’re not sleep-deprived at the time. It inspires a certain reflectiveness.

These hours are somewhat precious and precarious. If you ask me during normal hours what I think about them, I’d describe them as witching hours – where interesting and unusual things could happen if you let them. But I also know that I’ve sometimes spent these hours doing really mindless things online, scrolling through reddit and imgur and what have you. What’s happening now is a bit of an anomaly. I’m actually awake and writing at 3:32am. How are the next few hours going to play out? I don’t know. A part of me wants to go through my todo list, but that feels forced and unimaginative. A part of me wants to hop on reddit, but that’s a terrible waste of the witching hours, and I’d regret it later. If I could spend a bit of time just writing like mad, though, I think that would be something quite satisfying. So I’m going to try and do that.

What’s on my mind right now? Lots of different, disparate things. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about lately is how good it is to be coherent in your writing – to make sure that you have a clear idea in mind, and allow everything else to cohere around that central idea. This vomit is going to be about “the witching hour”. I didn’t decide on that when I got started, I started out thinking “?!”. So maybe it’ll be both.

I wonder if I’m subconsciously going overboard with the “cohere around a central idea” directive, and if that has been keeping me from writing.

I effectively wrote a vomit or three in my notebook when I was away on reservist for a while. I think reflecting on that merits an entire vomit to itself.

I recently completed watching 2 seasons of Sense8. I enjoyed that. I think that merits a vomit of notes.

I was thinking this morning about how “the good thing about getting older is that your experiences get more layered and rich”. That’s another. I was thinking about music, Hayley Williams, Cohen’s Hallelujah.

I’ve been thinking about my physical environment again, as an extension of myself and the world around me. I was thinking about the settings of Sense8, and about my own house and how I’d like it to feel more homey.

I’ve been thinking about limiting beliefs and how I have been holding myself back from becoming a more functional, effective, interesting person.

Wow, I wonder how many vomit ideas I could come up with in the context of a single vomit (this one), and then how many of those I could execute back to back? It’s the witching hour. I’m awake. I don’t particularly feel like doing anything else. Let’s find out, why not? I’ll get my Jaybirds, put some music on in my ears, and we’ll see where this leads.

I’ve been thinking about the next steps for my note-taking system, and how fragmented it is, and how it needs consolidation and review.

I’ve been thinking that I ought to be more honest and articulate with myself about my goals and what I want to achieve as a writer.

I’ve been thinking about how I should just dive right into writing stories, short stories, and stop making excuses and putting off what I know and believe I ought to be doing. I’ve written 600+ shitty stream of consciousness essays, and so now I’m pretty goo at writing stream of consciousness essays. Maybe I should switch next to writing 1,000 short stories? That actually sounds like a pretty great idea. I could tag it by genres, by characters, do fanfiction. That’s a wonderful idea. It’ll achieve the same thing that I’ve achieved here.

Well, I think this is a good start to the witching hour. Let’s see if I can expand each of the above thoughts into respective vomits. It’s something a little different. And I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve been craving some sort of change in my life.

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