Lockdown Day 11

There isn’t anything quite as daunting as a blank page. Not in the same way; where the beholder is the one responsible for transporting that emptiness into the richest gold. Or like, whatever they as an individual are capable of. 

I feel like I’ve skipped a day but really am unsure how, given I’ve written every day as soon as I wake up as well as right before I sleep. Perhaps I’ve forgotten to post something. Ah well.

Hopefully it was something good, ‘cos I’ve got nothing. Zip, nada, zilch, nothing. The Covid situation continues to get worse, more than 11 million cases, more than 60 thousand dead. That’s without what has gone unreported.

It all makes for very grim reading. We’re now at one of those defining points in history. Our generation will be known henceforth as the ones that dealt with this pandemic, regardless of how it turns out. We could be lauded or criticised, revered or despised. Our descendants will be our judges.

Onto lighter thoughts. My gorgeous little girl is crawling even faster. She’s a menace. With a cheeky grin. Whenever she hears the word ‘no’, she turns and grins…and gets right back to whatever she was doing. Throwing nappies around, eating plants, biting ears, that sort of thing. 

There. All refreshed from doom with the thought of a smiley rascal baby.

I’ve been playing about with Lightroom, both for mobile (see above) and on the computer. Obviously I’m a complete beginner but it’s pretty easy to muddle through and make something, at the exact same time as imparting just how robust a piece of software it is. You look at various sliders, selectors and icons and think ‘I have no idea what you do’. Never in a million years will I understand it deeply, but it’s great fun. 

Regarding the Twittexperiment thing; given I have like no followers it’s super slow going. Most likely will not amount to anything other than the usual views, but hey, still early days.

Still plenty of lockdown to go.

Lockdown Day 9

Another day, another session practising writing. The update from my employer is that they have no update for us working stiffs. Situation unchanged, we’re still locked down until further notice. So what can I do?

I’m going to do another little experiment. So the one that concluded last night around writing at different times of the day is a really good lead into it; this time I’m going to see how tweeting improves article exposure. See, I spent a good chunk of time today reading articles from my inbox, and browsing around on Twitter, and a lot of them focus on market exposure and content release strategies (appropriately enough the one I’ve linked is from WordPress themselves). I honestly don’t care about that at all. Even if nobody reads this, I get to flex my fingers and I win. Anything more than that is a bonus.

So, on to what I propose to do. I have a Twitter account (@blogswarr) linked to this that sees absolutely no use at all, apart from going off whenever I write something on WordPress. Usually nothing else at all. I’m going to alternate tweeting in between writing content and doing nothing. Maybe one day I’ll do nothing but retweets, the next maybe I’ll @someone in every tweet, the next; nothing but likes. Or favourites? Whichever it is, I’ll try that. If you can’t tell, I’m not overly familiar with the ways you work it. As you can probably tell by the fact the account has only 3 followers.

For now I think I’ll try to keep away from those accounts set up that can boost your profile, like the one pictured:

Capture.PNG 

Not that I have any particular qualms about using them if you’re actively trying to reach a wider audience, more that I don’t want to try it yet. I have no reason to, I’m not trying to make this a business. That’s a long way off.

As a bit of a follow on from the last few where I was dicking about with what time of day I was writing, this has been pretty spread over the course of the day. The start was written about 4pm, and I’m currently writing the body at 22:45. As I mentioned above, a decent amount of the day was spent reading what other people write about. Something I love doing at any time, but doing it when I was fresh enough to take ideas away felt quite good. Almost like I’m cheating, by building up some content before I sit down to write. Is that cheating?

Lockdown Day 8

Conclusion time! I had a little experiment going with writing at different times of the day; namely morning, afternoon and right before bed. Night, I’ve heard some people call it. I’ll run through a couple pros and cons of each. For the pedants out there, my morning time was typically around 7:30/8am, afternoon was around 4pm and night, even more loosely defined, 9 to 11 pm. Ish.

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Morning

So for the morning, in general, it was slow but constant in terms of flow. Apart from having to take more time to rescue the baby from under the couch or from trying to eat the houseplants (usually the one we call Alfronds), it was virtually uninterrupted. The downside is that I’d just woken up. This meant unless I’d had a pretty vivid dream (nope), written some thoughts or themes down the previous day (nope) or woken up with some absolute genius idea (definitely nope) I had very little to write about.

Afternoon

This tended to be the same time as the baby slept, which as any parent will tell you, is a double edged sword. On the one hand you want to make the most of the time, do everything that needs two hands, clean everything up, find the remote again. On the other you mustn’t wake the baby. Ah it was alright; quiet typing for the win. I had the energy and motivation. In terms of subject matter….I’d say not bad? I had the morning to draw from, and could write hypothetically about the evening. In general though, this was the period where I felt interrupted the most. I always felt like if I didn’t bring a piece to a close, I’d still have the time to go back and finish, but it never got to that point so I’ll never know.

Night

For night time writing, I always felt the most relaxed and with the potential to get the best work done. There was plenty from the day to draw upon, a quiet environment and the knowledge this was the last thing to be done. It felt nice to finish with a task fully completed and submitted. On the other hand, having a task to do before I was permitted to sleep felt weird. It didn’t get to the point where it felt like work but I think were it to be done every single evening at that time it could quite easily become a chore. Which is a shame because writing in the calm when everyone else has gone to bed was nice.

So which would I advocate? Probably a combo of afternoon and night. I’m lucky during this quarantine in that I have the free time to be able to do things at different points of day; I have no strict routine. So for the time being, I will probably end up doing a bit late afternoon and a bit later on at nighttime. Hopefully this should give me the best combination of energy, subject matter and calm surroundings.

At the end of the day, what works for you is what works best. Nobody should be telling you what to do, be your own person. And don’t believe what you read on the internet, I could have just made it all up. I haven’t, but you only have my word for it. Be your own person. And wear sunscreen.

Lockdown Day 7

Today wasn’t that productive and I don’t mind at all. In regular times, even if they are now a dim memory, I would be majorly pissed off. Having such an excess of time means less juggling between daughter, work and hobbies. It’s awesome.

Spending money is a massive risk though. Yesterday (or maybe the day before) I ordered a new board and had to make a conscious effort not to spend even more. With delivery drivers now revered as lesser gods, the temptation is oh so real. And being in the house for so long inevitably means we’re looking for things to do. New is exciting and exciting isn’t boring and that’s the risk. Add it to the fact most of our money gets spent in bars and restaurants, which are now shut, you get the perfect recipe for an online shopping spree. Or three.

Luckily (meaning lucky for my wallet), luckily, most of the stuff I would buy would be to use outside. Where we can no longer go for pleasure. Only state mandated exercise. Or to shop for food and stuff. Which is boring and I’d much rather have a new guitar or a surfboard anyway. Plus a lot of the stuff is too expensive even for the extra disposable cash.

Anyway.

When people talk about baby learning leaps and sleep regression and all that rubbish, I used to scoff. Maybe even expel air out my nose in dismissal. Not now. How wrong I was. Poor naive Sammy. It is one hundred percent real and currently happening. Again. I don’t know how she (baby) does it. Just when it seemed we were getting into a decent routine, just when progress was happening, just when we thought we were out, Tiny had other ideas. It’s now back to stretches of about two hours sleep before she’s up again, moaning or crying.

I’m sure we don’t have it quite as bad as it could be; generally the baby is the chillest little thing. And I’m stretching it slightly to increase my word count and give my fingers a workout. In reality we still get a decent 6-8 hours sleep, albeit broken, and we take turns having an hour lie in on a morning. It’s my turn tomorrow morning. The thing that I suppose is the biggest blow is the mental hit of taking a step back. Feels like your parenting isn’t quite up to scratch.

But that’s fine right? I mean, every single day is a learning curve. Sometimes it’s fine to just chill for a period. Especially if you have the time. The time I have with her is much more important than a few hours sleep, that’s for damn sure.

Last note;  I’ll try have at least a nice picture or something tomorrow. Sorry, slacking.

Lockdown Day 6

The thing I’m noticing most as the days go by is even though I’m exercising and moving around, pottering about doing little jobs, is how much my ass is sick of sitting on the couch. I’ve started sitting on the floor for a bit, getting a hard chair from the kitchen, working upstairs, working at the island, just about everything. My poor ass is not satisfied with the current options. I may need to buy new seats.

Right, the confession right now is I didn’t manage to write in the afternoon. Mea culpa. In fairness, I’m told it is Sunday, which is pretty much a write off in terms of afternoons anyway. They’re meant for baths, cocktails, wine and relaxation. Not activity. I don’t know when the cut off point is but it’s currently ten local time and I’m alone in the front room with a glass of red and Infinity War on. Can’t complain.

Of course I can complain in a general sense. For example, Amie got Disney+ today expecting to be able to watch Frozen 2: Electric Bugaloo(I don’t know, it might be called that), only to realise it’s out for everyone in the states, but not poor Britain. Why? Couldn’t tell you. Likely there’s some profit to be made by keeping everything separate and promote violent relations between the nations. At least there’s some Star Wars and Marvel to be watched.

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Frankly I’m enjoying this impromptu holiday at home. I know my partner isn’t and some of my friends are likewise struggling and veering towards cabin fever. Some of it I get and some of it I don’t. Being trapped in the house and not experiencing the social interaction you crave, yeah, sure, genuine issue. My sympathy. But not being able to be happy because there are bad things in the world? Being angry at people who can be happy despite the current situation? Dude, you’re setting yourself up for a very unhappy and unhealthy life there. Feeling down because of what you’re going through is fine, feeling like people shouldn’t or have no right to be happy is just plain wrong. Find happiness in what you have. Don’t envy those who can be positive in the face of this pandemic. Maybe take a look inwards and see why you aren’t feeling good.

The only thing that currently has the potential to bring me into a negative mood is lack of sleep. That’s it. My poor little girl is still teething and (apparently) going through a sleep regression. My amazing midwife partner does almost 100% of the night time stuff, but I keep trying to help out. It. Is. Hard. I also have the fact that I’m of limited help. Up until recently the baby wouldn’t even settle with me, much less sleep. But I try. And every now and again, we share a moment where the tiny human is sleepy enough to not care and I’m awake enough to appreciate; she will lay her little head on my shoulder and very slowly drift off, cuddled in close, her pudgy little hands grasping at my chest and shoulders. That’s the reward.

Lockdown Day 5

As promised, the experiment into productivity by writing at different times of day and looking at the end product continues. This time, it’s late afternoon. Sun streaming in the window after a rain, daughter asleep in my partner’s arms, cider next to me. Apart from being a bit peckish, it is a pretty ideal picture. 

Later we’ll play a couple board games and most likely talk about what we could do when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. Holidays, drives, places to see. Like a bucket list but not as robust. I imagine once we as a society move past this pandemic life will probably (don’t quote me on this) go back to something resembling normal within a handful of years. Maybe a price dip on travel to kick-start tourism again, plenty of sales to stimulate the markets, then maybe a price rise to offset the lack of profits, then a slow settle back to what we currently view as normal. Maybe. I’m not an analyst. Nor a psychic.

Yesterday (could have been, I still don’t know what day it is) was a Designated Creative Day™. Hopefully the start of many to come. As a result I now have the full Adobe Creative Cloud. I have literally. No. Idea. How to do pretty much everything in it. Even Photoshop which I learned, and was pretty good at, at college, has undergone enough facelifts that it may as well be in Mandarin. I did manage the following in Lightroom, but I can’t decide if it’s genuinely good or if I’m looking at it through the rosy glasses of the creator.

Lightroom Landscape 1.jpg
Looks like a golf course promo

My incapability really brings home that instant success is super rare. When I was little I was naturally good at a lot of things. That’s long gone. Whether or not it’s that what I try to do is that much more complex or me just being generally useless remains to be seen, what I’m appreciating now is the casual skill of those who have put the time in. Who’ve paid their dues and can now reap the rewards. 

Massive respect to them. In my old age. My self-reflective age, if you will, I know the only thing that has stopped me from being at that point right now is that I didn’t find what I wanted to do soon enough. It’s a curse of our time; we have so much information available to us, so much choice of what to do with ourselves, that we end up dipping in and out of stuff on a whim. We’re less renaissance men and more Jack of all trades, emphasis on the ‘master of none’ part. This makes the it even more impressive to be a polymath in this day and age.

The rest of us have a five minute attention span, distracted by the next fading interest. Then the next. Repeat until dead.

Lockdown Day 4

I don’t know what day it is.  This isn’t particularly a bad thing, as for the foreseeable future all our time is spent at home, but when you’re talking and people casually mention ‘next Thursday’ I have no frame of reference. That could easily be a hundred nights away. Or the day after tomorrow. If that’s the hardest challenge to be faced in the coming weeks so be it. I will meet it head on.

I’m trying to decide if writing comes easier in the morning or evening. The first couple were written at night, last thing, after the baby has gone to sleep. Day 3 was actually the morning after the third day, same as this one (it’s technically day five right now) and I’m thinking that nights are a bit calmer and words flow easily. Easier. Certainly if we look at lengths (HAH it’s not all about size), or images and links, the first couple are certainly richer. Possibly for five I’ll try the afternoon?

Never before had it occurred to me that the time of day could drastically change the shape of one’s writing. Possibly because I never tried to put pen to paper for so many consecutive days? And then going an extra layer, maybe it’s time passing relative so my sleep rather than what the clock is showing; if I’m awake all night and write just before sleep in the am, would that be the same as the article produced by writing at midnight after being busy all day? Maybe it’s just my mood.

Night & Day - Fine Art Photography Series by Andrew Prokos
Andrew Prokos Photography

This ‘what if’ game could be played all day. I’m sure I’ve written before about how they are two of the most dangerous words in the English language. I stand by that. Hell, maybe it’s time to write about that again. I’m sure it’s been at least two years.

Anyway, stay safe, this is just a ramble.