Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Halp

"Your last post" says M, which the crushing frankness I greatly value in our friendship "Was fucking insane. It basically just read OWLOWLOWLOWLOWLOWLOWL. I was going to count how many times you used the word 'owl' but I got bored".

She is right. The fact is, I am running on empty at the moment. I am devoid of inspiration in any part of my life - I'm not pitching for new work, not editing my book, not tweeting, and only occasionally suggesting you look at sleeping birds. I am not exactly dressed, not exactly leaving the house much. In fact, I'd say I'm:

40% Uninspired attempts to work

10% Cleaning (of which 1% Cif Multi-Surfaces, 1% virtuous, 1% Ewwwwww, 7% bored now)

20% Mad Men in bed (Mad Men - I'm on Season 3 - is really melancholy isn't it? Exquisitely gloomy, but gloomy all the same. I'm not complaining, just observing).

5% Sartorial catastrophe (of which 1% no make up, 1% dreaded skin disease, thanks kidz, 3% dirty tracksuit bottoms)

25% Fuzzy low-res images of sleeping o**s

It's not disastrous - we're not talking about a total facepasta scenario. Quite apart from the important fact that I have my health and all my digits and so on and these are luxury problems, I've done some good stuff since I went freelance (got fired). I'e got some good jobs through wheedling and persistence, met really brilliant people, done bits of work I'm moderately proud of. But just now, I'm a bit .. meh. Boring. Uninspired. Cowardly. Financial catastrophe is still winking at me from the horizon, but it's not absolutely imminent and I'm diddling around doing thoroughly unprofitable bits and pieces and feeling a bit lame. I think Twitter is quite pernicious in this situation, because it's full of people writing 8000 words a day, and getting brilliant jobs and doing amazing things. One part of me is delighted for them, and the other wants to put my head in down a waste disposal unit. Perhaps I should stop looking, but it's really useful in other ways, so I can't. Hmm.

So what do I do? What do YOU do when the 'can't be arsed' comes upon you, when your brain rattles with dust and owl pellets and dreariness? Do you keep on plodding through the trenches, or do you try and shock yourself out of the apathy? Should I ignore the absence of money coming in for a few days, give up and concentrate on getting some admin done? Finally sweep up that pile of dust on the stairs that I seem to be keeping as a low maintenance pet? Tackle the fact that all my clothes live in a heap on the floor? Keep writing and see what comes out? Lock myself in a wifi free box and do some hardcore writing? Go to a museum, a concert, a film, a petting zoo? Play the piano? Take on some insane project? Go on, give me some suggestions, I'll consider pretty much anything (offer does not extend to Morris Dancing or using the telephone)..

40 comments:

B said...

EUR 3 bottle of cava, blanket, good book, sunshine in park. Problem solved.

Take the day and do fuck all. It's restoring, cheap and indulgent.

(Alternative: Mad Men while drinking martinis. I've lost a Sunday or two that way.)

Simon said...

If you're into Mad Men be prepared for a dry spell. They've only just agreed on a deal to make season 4 and it won't be on until next year. And even then it'll be on Sky, not BBC4, so you'll have to comb through the Dutch channel schedules to find it.
And I'm feeling apathetic and bored lately too, it's not just you.

Anonymous said...

That owlcam thing is fantastic, the thrill when she deigns to look at the camera is unreal!

Commenter B is definitely on to something with the good book and sunshine in the park idea. After the long string of woe of winter and months of overwork with little reward (I still haven't brought myself to do my invoices, a task that for some reason I very stupidly avoid like the plague, until the financial panic is too great to ignore and soaring adrenalin levels force me to do it under tremendous pressure), one day around a week ago I uncharacteristically decided to get up from the chair and just go for a walk around midday. It was like coming out of a long hibernation, or as if I had been dead for a while and was slowly coming to life again.
You probably already get outside the house quite often with your dog, but it's surprising how staying in and not going out into the world can make all our problems seem unsurmountable. A bit of sunshine works wonders, it really does.
The problem is that when you're depressed or down in the dumps, it's hard to actually take the steps you need to take to make things better.
Wishing you inspiration, energy and the best of good luck and serendipity!
I really love your writing!
OK, comments hijack over. :)

Anon.one

Anonymous said...

well you can take the decision like B says just to take a day off and enjoy the sunshine (while it lasts!).

or if that'll just push the anxiety levels of the charts, i'd say tackle the small brainless so that you are truly procrastinating, and hope that the small activities (cleaning etc) build up some kind of momentum until you do something really useful (google: structured procrastination).

personally i'd go for the first option today because i believe this may be the one and only summer we get in Belgium and I am stuck in an office today and not happy about it.

curlywurlyfi said...

Yep, I too am in the 'can't be arsed to do anything at the moment + even if I did there's no point since it doesn't mean anything anyway' stage. Good here, isn't it.

A bit of self-indulgence helps short term, it's true (entire Sundays spent watching West Wing back to back) but ultimately you are still left feeling dissatisfied. And that's the part I haven't cracked, I'm afraid.

Do say if this is the least helpful comment you've ever had.

cruella said...

Do whatever but don't fret. Fretting gets nothing done moneywise.

If you feel totally useless without a structure, try incrementing you day in manner of Willie, brilliantly played by Hugh Grant, in About a Boy.

Fill up one hour at the time with bits and pieces - carefully ruffle hair, have a hot bath, admin, Mad Men.

Dara said...

I think whatever you have is contagious. I can't be arsed to do much more than lay down and watch Mad Men.
Jon Hamm is delish even if he is a sad sack.

I could get lost in owl cam. It's fascinating stuff.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for something to do how about whipping up a chocolate cake and popping it over to my office along with a g & t?

I have been reading some work of yours for the last few weeks and it is beautiful stuff. Don't stop.

Fran

Anonymous said...

Build a raised bed in the garden, with a seat to sip cava from come the summer. Only needs 2 tons of soil to fill apparently. Wish I had never started, it has taken 3 weeks just to get the enthusiasm to order the wood. I'm with the blanket in the park brigade. Or would be if I wasn't sitting in waiting for wood - ooh er missus!.

frau antje said...

A jolt can be good for dynamical oscillating systems like humans, but don't just wing it, technically there are some steady states you probably want to avoid. Having said that, do not comb through the Dutch channel schedules, that will just accentuate the nausea (not unlike an ad for Speculoos Haagen-Dazs).

Oh, and is it too late for a disclaimer about the owl? I just stumbled across that. I do see a lot of birds, but they are real. I'm turning into my parents, only lazier.

Mary said...

Sorry to say that I, and then my husband and I, spent much of yesterday delighting in the observation of Owl and Stork. I think it is better than an aquarium for lowering blood pressure. Certainly your health comes first!

Anonymous said...

You're not alone. Taking small steps seems to work for me. Like, for example, today you get rid of that dust ball and you feel that you have actually accomplished something. By the end of the week you might build enough confidence to tackle big stuff.

Anonymous said...

This is a hokey suggestion, but try yoga! You look inward & get more focus...the benefits to your body become secondary.

Although I must say I do enjoy your acerbic commentary. Hope you feel better, nobody likes the funk.

robyn

Anonymous said...

York is Britain's best small city..

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/8432470/York-is-Britains-best-small-city-or-town.html

Take heart... it will all pass, and at least the sun is shining..

ellen said...

Sadly the answer may be structure - but of a self imposed kind where you choose how to schedule your outdoor walks, crap TV, owl-observing, housekeeping, and (potentially) paid work. Not glam at all, but it's the only way I get anything at all done. There are too many amusements lurking on the Internet.

Nimble said...

Set a timer for 15 minutes and do something horribly unappetizing. (Make sure I've had enough sleep and food first.) Figure out what I want to do the least and do other things that seem less awful first. Schedule short walks, small pleasures. Sigh. Wait for the pendulum to swing.

momosyllabic said...

I'd recommend AGAINST internet dating. Far better you love an owl.
How about picking one truly out-of-character event to attend a week? Life-drawing, public library book club, cheerleading performance--doesnt't matter. Just one bizarre thing, every week.

ali_jane said...

Three kilometer walk, preferably in the sunshine. If you don't know the distance to go, just walk for fifteen minutes and then loop around rather than plotting something out on google maps where it's oh so easy to meander off to other parts of the interwebs.

I like the timer idea too, and bought a timer for the purpose. It has been used about three times in twice as many months... Timer time tonight on my mash of papers!

Alison Cross said...

Get outside - always helps. Walk. Lie down in park. Sit in sun. Doesn't matter, just let the sun warm your bones.

I am thinking of running away from current life and starting afresh in South America, in manner of nazi general. Wanna come?


AX

Johnners said...

Gosh, lots of your readers have very active ways of dealing with the 'no motivation' zone. I was going to suggest waiting and seeing, possibly with a nice drink, but now feel I should be more ... peppy?

How about making a list of stuff you really should do and tearing it into strips, scatter them about a bit then let the weepette choose one. Decision avoided, and you can blame the dog if it's not to your liking too.

jessb said...

Start test driving (riding?) motorbikes as well as cars? That'd shock the system...

See if there is a make-up product/spa product/cosmetic evil genius of some kind that can beautify you out of a funk and write a post for Face Goop on it?

Start writing a story (possibly centred around the internal monologues of owls and/or assassin neighbours) and post the daily results on here for the entertainment of your readers...most of whom are also in spring funks and could use the pick me up your fabulous writing brings!

Develop a new line of dust bunny products for Cruel Tea? Would help with cleaning, bring in some extra cash and boost your creative energies!

Amelia said...

I think your wrong about the owls being soothing, i found it frustrating wait for attention from an owl...what was soothing was forgeting to close the tab and being lulled by the gentle sound of traffic and bird song which is the soundtrack!

I felt fuggy then I met up with friends, someone bit my neck, I watched a really funny film and made some crumble. Still havn't done any of the many things i should be doing but I feel (temporarily) a lot better and like I might be able to tackle something tommorow.

Anonymous said...

Well, looks like the others commenting have given you plenty of options to get through April (T. S. Elliot was right, April IS the cruelest month), everything from cheap bubbly to running off to South America. I like how there's an option for every budget.

Until you decide, may I point your attention in the direction of LAUGHING OWLS?

http://damncoolpics.blogspot.com/2011/03/laughing-owls.html

Enjoy!

You are welcome!

C/Kalgon

Anonymous said...

How do you feel about a bald eagle cam? Just to mix it up a bit--there's a refuge not too far from here (Wisconsin) that's gone all viral apparently. So you could do that--although bald eagles are not owls of course.

Whenever I am desirous of feeling productive, yet incapable of actually doing any work on my shapeless dissertation, I clean. I especially love to vacuum up the dog hair.

Margaret said...

I think momosyllabic's idea is fantastic (where were you when I was in my four-year funk? I ended up having to get a job, which I like, but still). You can find strange things to watch or do and write about them. But keep writing about everything--even your funks--you're just so damn good.

Elsie said...

I have been wanting to thank you for making your all your articles available through your profile, brcause they have all been wonderful. It was difficult to track down the european press here - had to drop in regularly at coffeeshop that specializes in foreign porn but would order in uk elle upon request.

Xtreme English said...

what I do when I "can't be arsed" is go to bed, pull the covers over my head, and stay there till i feel like getting up. it's useless to fight these things. you really have to throw yourself into it! buy a box of chocolates and a couple really funny novels and read with a flashlight under the covers.good luck, ms. waffle. you are very funny and talented. it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it....

Rhia said...

Can I just say a Massive thank you for introducing me and my sister to Owlcam!! We live miles and we've been known to skype whilst simulataneously watching the owl and only interupting the silence to make a delighted remark about the owl such as "Look shes just moved her head" or my sisters favourite "shes scratching, shes got nits!"
We call her "our owl" (alas, shes not but you get the idea!).

redfox said...

If I knew what I did at times like that, I'd be doing it now -- which I suppose means that what I do is sit like a lump and drink a lot of tonic.

zmkc said...

'I think Twitter is quite pernicious in this situation, because it's full of people writing 8000 words a day, and getting brilliant jobs and doing amazing things' - ie liars or certainly big noters. As to the rest, just breathe deeply,, take St John's Wort, grit your teeth and remember that a) this will pass and b) you are very original and extremely funny.

Rebecca said...

Looking on the bright side, it's sunny, and there are actually 13 episodes of season 4 Mad Men to watch before you run out of that to do (I finished them all ages ago, sob). And it's sunny, as has been mentioned quite often, so I won't go into that.

You are a great writer, so write an owl book perhaps.

Laurel said...

I have two young children and so I can't remember the time I had an unstructured day off. Which is not to say that you have it so easy, rather that I am not the best source of advice on the topic. However, I do work from home on my own as well and have definitely noticed that my productivity and quality of work waxes and wanes. As far as I can tell I just need to roll with it, and if I am spending undue amounts of time staring blankly at the screen, finding myself clicking over to sleazy celeb gossip sites, etc., I sometimes give up for the day and try to pay attention to what I really feel like doing... sometimes cleaning/decluttering (am VERY cluttered) sometimes I try to get outside and sometimes, albeit not as much as I would like, I say fuck it all, I'm going to have a bath/read a book/go shopping/see a friend. Truly and honestly that sort of thing does seem refreshing, and then I can sometimes feel renewed about work. Plus, as a writer, you occasionally have to go out and do things to write about, so you have an excuse, right? I would totally read your book about webcam owls (although, phrased that way, it sounds unspeakably sordid).

Marion said...

I've been coming here for the last two days and thinking of how I could use your reader's tips for myself. Instead of sending you any of my own. How bad a reader am I? But I hope you get better.

kerstin said...

so many good suggestions. have you watched The Wire? And then the commentary to the Wire? There are 5 seasons - it's a serious project. I still remember a 3 day period I got an extension on a paper in grad school and instead of buckling down and using the reprieve, I read "The Mill on the Floss" on my couch, punctuated by tacos and icecream. It remains a favorite memory. So that's my suggestion - any classics you haven't gotten to yet?

Lisa-Marie said...

Ice cream, tea, sunshine, decent magazine, book. Sit. ENJOY.

Ignore the rest of the world!

Summer Kinard said...

I drink quantities of tea. It doesn't always help, but at least the tea is warming.

I think anyone writing 8k words/day is either huffing something or stealing his/her child's Adderall.

NON-WORKINGMONKEY said...

I apply tiny - but tiny - amounts of self-discipline & structure and start there. Massive 'to-do' lists = overwhelming, can't do it, fail, feel shit about self, go bonkers, drink gin, repeat. "Today I will remove dust balls". Remove dust balls, watch Mad Men. "Today I will clean bottom of bin". Clean bottom of bin, watch owl films. etc. Reward of doing something or persistence ("I will do one small thing every day") massively outweighs the effort, I think. Lists along the lines of "I will stop drinking completely go to the gym every day write another novel do disco dancing all night then make 12 cakes for the poor" = a total disaster.

Also, completely agree re. structured procrastination - John Perry fella. Cheered me up no end. You should read it. I think you will like it.

Anonymous said...

Where are you dear Waffle???

Mya said...

Yes, where are you lovely Waffleykins? Are you doggedly working your way through every single anti-can't be arsed tip so kindly left by your loyal following? Have you moved in with the owl?
Pinch unknown men's bottoms on public transport.You might get arrested,but the frisson of danger will bring you alive again.It's not really being a sex pest, it's helping yourself.
Mya x

BDM said...

yes, missing you awfully!