Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bad Habits

By Jay Stringer

I’m here today to talk about an addiction.

It destroys lives, and it has had a hold of me for about ten years, give or take.

Yes. I’m here to talk about Football Manager. That annual package of computer game bliss. It can transport you away from real life, make you feel warm and tingly. It came make you feel like a better man. A superman.
It’s not all good, though. Like with all habits, it is a destructive force. It takes away friends and ends relationships. You can become distant and cranky, living in a fantasy world and forgetting how to interact with real people.
And it eats away whole years of your life; keeping you sat in the dark, jabbering and screaming at the wall. Your real memories become intermixed with fake ones.
Where were you when Michael Jackson died? Me, I was probably giving a half time team talk in the champions league final between Real Madrid and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It’s a sad and destructive tale. I think Irvine Welsh wants to work with me on the novelisation.

Okay, actual blog time.

This is a follow up to my first piece for this site. Back when we started, I wrote about how I don’t believe in writers block. It led to some very interesting discussions. At the heart of it was my premise that ‘writers block’ is actually just part of the writing process. It’s the brain figuring things out.

But there was an important element that I missed out back then. Because who doesn't love a sequel? One of the major factors in the productivity of a writer is distraction. Ever noticed how the comic book industry seems to have a higher number of scheduling delays around the time a hot new XBOX game is released?

People close to me have developed the ability to predict when I’m in ‘writer mode’ because I’ll be spending my spare time building a guitar, or going for walks. Maybe cleaning the kitchen or inventing a new recipe. I’ll be doing something invigorating or creative. At the same time, it’s easy to see when I’m being lazy. Because I’ll be playing that damn computer game. I was joking with a friend about it recently, each trading our game-sobriety tales. “Hi, I’m Jay Stringer and I haven’t played in three weeks.”* I joked that the last time I went any true length of time without giving in to the game, I wrote a novel. And its true.

I think we all have these dirty habits, though they’ll be different for everybody.
Worse still, we know these things destroy our work rate. I know each time I sit down with a fresh pile of comics, or each time I load up “just for one quick game,” that I’m kissing goodbye to productivity for the foreseeable future. Yet we do it anyway. Part of us likes it.
So, to steal a Weddle-ism, here are a couple of questions.

-What are your bad habits? Out yourself. It might feel good.

-What do you do to overcome them? Do you have a way to defeat your demons, or do you like giving in?

*This is blatantly not true.


John McFetridge said...

We finally have a soccer team in Toronto (this is our third season) and I've started to see Football Manager talked about online quite a bit.

It's so tempting...

I surf endlessly. In a very weak attempt to make it "research" I had a character be involved in the world of online porn.

Even though no one buys the "research" excuse, in the book I'm working on now a bunch of characters were in a rock band in the late 70's and I'm spending a lot of time listening to old music, watching hours of YouTube clips and reading up on old bands.

I'm looking for a way to work in a soccer player - maybe there'll be some smuggling from Central America in equipment bags (even though we didn't make the group stages of the CONCACAF Champions League, put out by Puerto Rico, if you can believe it).

Scott D. Parker said...

Bad habits - the general din of noise from the computer. This morning, after basically a day-and-a-half not on the computer, I found 283 unread blog entries on my Google Reader. 283! There's no friggin way I can get through them AND my job AND my writing AND my duties at home AND just having fun. So, a bad habit is being chained to the 'net and blogs. Ironically, I'll be blogging about my blog addiction in the near future. :-)

Jay Stringer said...

Don't do it John, play once and you're hooked for life!!!

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Spider Solitaire. That messes me up every time. Oh, and Twitter. Yeah, there's that. And my blog. And I write articles for Philadelphia Examiner. And I play w/my cats. And...

What do I do to overcome these minor scheduling flaws? I make sure I get my word count in no matter what. That eases the guilt of distraction. Then I can get back to blog surfing.