Assessing Summer 2022, or Did I Waste My Vacation This Year?

The question – or usually a statement – I’ve heard people make regarding teaching is “it must be wonderful to have that free time during the summers.”

I have to admit that it is good to have that vacation time. Even during the best of times, a school year for teachers is the mental equivalent of running a marathon. After it’s over, you need recovery time mentally and to some extent physically.

However, I also feel (at least, I have felt this way for the past several years teaching) that I have all this time to myself, and there is this internal pressure that I “make good use of it,” so to speak. There were times these past few months where I felt that I was not doing that effectively. For example, May-June of 2021 was a blank time for me, to be honest. But that made sense in retrospect because I was contemplating not even returning to teaching, so I was a bit unsure of my IRL status for a while.

However, when I look back on what happened this summer, there were a bit more positives than negatives when it came down to it. Let’s review.

Negatives

I think that there were a lot of times when I found myself just sitting and either watching television or staring at my phone. As I have chronicled in this space before, entropy and sitting still is my natural level. It takes me a lot longer to get bored with hanging out at home than many other people. Could I have spent more time writing instead of watching soccer, Formula 1, and Australian Rules Football, watching YouTube to catch people’s movie reviews (especially bad movies), and what Jim Cornette thinks about the current world of wrestling, or using Minecraft to build a digital castle? Well, probably I could have.

I also am a little disappointed in myself that I am not farther along on my route to self-publishing than I wanted to be at this point. (That will be its own post a bit later.) I am further than I was, and I am starting to get a handle on what things I need to take care of before I jump into this. It might take time, but I also want to make sure than I am getting things right.

Positives

My overall writing productivity has not been bad during the summer months. So far, I am definitely ahead of where I was at the same time last year, which was definitely a down time for me.

I believe that I have make at least a little more effort to take care of myself than I have in years past. Even though my weight is not where I would like it to be, I have made the effort to walk nearly every day for the past couple months. That’s something that I didn’t really do on a consistent basis before, but now I am. I was never comfortable with the gym or other stuff, but I have been comfortable going on a walk along some relatively level sidewalks and I feel good after getting them done, especially in the hot summer sun. I definitely will keep up with it during the school year.

I’ve been able to get out and do things that I have not had the chance to do for a long time. I managed to get away with my wife to Duluth, Minnesota, for a few days and it was a fantastic experience. I got to go down to Kansas City for the day and watch the US men’s soccer team for the first time in my life after more than 20 years of fandom.

Also, I’ve gotten more active on this site and trying to write more blogs and content here than in the past. I didn’t actually write a new post every weekend, but I did do it on plenty of them – including this one. And after some brainstorming, I have quite a few other ideas for blog posts to come.

It’s not been a bad summer. Shame it has to come to a close.

Writing Journal: 3.23.2022: I’m writing, but not what I’m “supposed” to write – or, the difference between total writer’s block and “situational” writer’s block/procrastination

Well, this is a bit frustrating now.

I’m doing… all right with the writing, I guess? I’m well into March, which is one of those “extra week” months where I can get five weeks of writing sorted out rather than just four weeks. Last week’s totals (I’ll spell that out in a moment) were the best I’ve had all year, bar none, and by the time that this post goes online, I might already have achieved my writing goal for this month, to keep on pace with this not-so-crazy 200,000 words in a single year goal for 2022.

But, I’m getting the feeling that I’m beginning to separate my writing into the “serious commercial or semi-commercial writing” and the “totally frivolous and fun writing.” Two different areas, and categories that represent two different emotions for me. I have been associating the first category with success, accomplishment, “being a serious writer,” and procrastination on a very measurable level. The second category is filled with slight embarrassment because most of the writing is “frivolous,” “not serious,” “fan fiction,” “not intended for commercial success or even intended to appeal to a wider audience” and it’s supposedly not something I should invest a lot of time and creativity.

But I’ve had more fun doing that latter sort of writing than any other type of writing during the past few weeks. So, since I’ve been thinking on this subject for more than a little bit, maybe it’s time to take a step backward and see if my behavior makes any sense. Many people have complimented me, both in past times and present times, that I have a good self-analysis of my behavior, my reasoning, and my emotional reactions. Maybe it’s time to apply that to my current writing status.

(I usually post writing journals that either just say “here’s my totals for the week” and hello, or go into a deep dive about what I am thinking, writing-wise, about what is going on. I get the feeling, as I am putting this together, that this entry is one of the latter kind.

So, buckle in.

Some dude found it on Facebook, then posted it on Reddit. I saw it there and thought it was a good visual representation of the weirdness that I was considering regarding the writing output I had recently. Now, it’s on WordPress. You’re welcome.

So, we have the “serious writing” and the “fun writing” categories that I came up with for myself because I need to write about something and I might as well get it out here. My other experience is that once I talk something out with myself, once I analyze it and try and explain it to myself, I usually am able to work my way for it. I often times have eventually found myself repeating behavioral patterns, but it almost always keeps me from repeating not so good behaviors in the short term because once I figure out what is actually going on inside my head, I am able to correct things. So, I think it is good to talk about that here, especially since it concerns itself with my writing and what I am doing with it.

Essentially, what is happening is that I’m doing well at the latter writing but not the former. So, I’m going to make a brief effort to see why that is the case, and also if this classification into good and bad writing actually makes sense or is just some arbitrary malarkey that I decided on.

I’m going to try to, anyway. Or, at least summarize it.

As of right now, I’m seeing the “serious” work as something that I have to do but have to really motivate myself to do. There’s plenty of stakes in it, such as getting better known and possibly making this pay off. While my “fun” writing has no chance of doing any of that, but I enjoy myself when I do it and find the process a breeze to put out new material – new material, that is, that is not even intended to be commercial or be exploited commercially.

This is an interesting conversation… but I think I need to think on it a bit further before I tease out the implications and see the reasoning, whether accurate or false, behind this thinking. For now, just know I had a very productive week and looking forward to many more. After some of the weeks I’ve had last year and early this week, that is a nice change.

All you writers keep writing, and everyone keep safe.

Writing statistics for the week ending 3.19.2022:
+6,787 words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 120 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 7 of 7 days.