Like so many others, I have a silly, romantic fascination with the idea of artistic retreats. Going to a remote place, breathing in nature and producing dazzling works of art. It worked for Thoreau, Kerouac, Bon Iver and so many others french sounding creatives, right? Well, I’m a working family man with a newborn and a special needs teenager, so I have neither the time nor the finances to do anything of the sort.
Hence, meet Bubble Boy, my virtual retreat. Why and how does that work? Well, me hearties, first I had to ask myself what do I want to be doing from here on out? And then do that. It’s not that simple, of course. Life happens. Work happens. But it’s not that far off either, hmm? No.
For me, a short answer to the question above would be: I want to realize my creative ideas, do the best I can for my family, become a reader (vs. absorber) again, be somewhat healthy and energetic, be adventurous, socialize and participate a bit more and give back in areas that matter to me.
So what’s stopping me?
- Lack of time. Lack of planning. Lack of courage. And just not doing it.
All fairly manageable—dare I say it—excuses. I can make more time by getting up earlier and also by curbing unnecessary time consuming activities. I can make a morning routine where I plan, set deadlines and follow through on my plans. And then there is courage, closely linked to procrastination, perfectionism and all that jazz. It’s a cart before the horse situation. As most productive people have figured out, you don’t sit around waiting for courage or inspiration or whatever. You just get on with it and then these things may or may not come. Either way you’re doing something. Allow yourself to suck, as someone said.
So, let me start by listing what I’m not allowed to do in September:
- Solitary Video Gaming.
- Internet surfing (except when I have to achieve a goal or buy something very specific online – hence, no browsing).
- Solitary Film & TV watching. Together with friends and loved ones is OK. My gf watches very little tv, so it won’t consume much time.
- Sleep in or stay up late. I intend to get up at 6.30 and be in bed by 10.30 PM every day.
I have somewhat of an addictive personality and whenever I feel depressed, anxious or just tired I choose the path of least resistance and begin absorbing ungodly amounts of the things mentioned above and that doesn’t jive with who I want to be.
Here’s what I’m allowing myself:
- Music: Creating music, jamming, rehearsing.
- Writing and blogging
- Other creative projects.
- Reading: All kindle and pocket and honest to god books made of paper.
- Family Time.
- Exercise. Walking, hiking, running, dancing, whatever.
- Plan & Organize.
- Meditation and other relaxing activities.
- Other necessary activities such as work, cleaning, etc.
As stated earlier, I’m also incorporating a morning routine.
So I’ll keep this going all September. I’ll check in every day and report on what and how I’m doing. The most significant changes are getting up early and removing the time wasters. I’m thinking I ought to set a quota on my daily creative pursuits (like Stephen King writing 2000 words per day without fail), but first I’ll give it a week to see if anything productive develops naturally now that I’ve removed my biggest time wasters.
This will be a learning experience and I’ll probably refine a few things along the way. Also, an absolute ban on video games, netflix and web browsing is excessive and I’ll probably return to them in October and use them as rewards instead.