I am a creature of habit. I don’t like doing new things. But if I do something long enough that it becomes part of my routine, then I hate not doing it. And I find it really irritating when I get pushed off my routine. Some of my habits are so ingrained I’m not even aware of them.
“Taking a nap?” my wife says to me one afternoon last summer.
I stop. Yeah, I guess I am. I just stood up from the computer and I was about to head for the bedroom. But only because I had insomnia last night and it’s just catching up with me now. This isn’t my usual naptime. “Hang on a second,” I say, cocking my head to one side, “How did you know?”
“You just took off your socks. You always do that right before going to sleep.”
“Wow, really? I never noticed that.”
After that exchange I began trying to spot other odd tics and habits of mine, and it turns out they’re innumerable. This is good for all of us, since one of my ingrained habits is running this site. Here is one week of running Twenty Sided:
Saturday is my day off, so by Saturday evening a nice little pile of work has accumulated. So I check the site comments, get caught up on email, then meet up with my friends in Ventrilo. We usually spend an hour or so talking about videogames or life. Once we’re warmed up, we record a Diecast. Then we record Spoiler Warning.
This is my biggest work day. If you need something from me, don’t ask on Sunday. Everyone always asks for stuff on Sunday and I always blow them off because Sunday is crazy.
On Sunday I have to write my weekly column. I used to try and do this the week before, but I got burned one too many times. I’d finish the column, send it in on Friday, and then some news would happen over the weekend to make the thing inaccurate, irrelevant, or just dated. Gaming news moves too fast to be writing stuff five days ahead of time.
I also try to make a quick, low-pressure post for the blog. Something easy. Something from the gut. (Example: This post.) I want to fill the space on Sunday, but traffic is way down on the weekend. I see Sunday discussions as more intimate, less formal. Mentally, it feels like a good spot to talk about personal stuff, even though it will still be on the top of the page when everyone comes to work on Monday morning. (Oh yes. Most of you read from work. I know all about your “coffee breaks”.)
Once I have the Sunday post done, I begin editing the Diecast. Josh used to handle this, but that caused a lot of duplication of labor. Since I write the post, I have to listen to the show to gather up all the timestamps. And if I’m going to listen to the show I might as well do so while editing it. It generally takes a good three or four hours to edit a one-hour podcast. I don’t know why. It doesn’t feel like I make that many edits. But when I check the clocks at the end, half the day is gone.
I suppose I’m guilty of a few “coffee breaks” myself.
So: Write column, edit podcast, write podcast post, write blog post. That’s a full day of work and then some. Sometimes I can’t get it all done and some of it spills over to Monday. I hate when that happens.
I give the column one last proof and turn it in. I post the Diecast. Then I work on feeding the late-week content. If I’m in programming mode, then I’ll do some coding. If I’m in writing mode, then I’ll do that. If I’m stuck, I look for a new game to try to light the writing fires.
The column goes up in the afternoon. I dislike having a post that’s just a link to the column, so I try to expand on it. I’ll either use cut content or bring up something that didn’t occur to me on Sunday.
Then it’s time to put yesterday’s content to work. I’ll either write about the game I played or the programming I did.
In the afternoon I have my weekly meeting with the rest of the Pyrodactyl team and we’ll talk about what we did / plan to do on Good Robot. After that, the fixed jobs for the week are done so now it’s all freeform. If I’m coding, I can REALLY focus on coding. If I’m gaming, I can dump a lot of time into it.
In the evening Josh puts up the first Spoiler Warning. I watch the show, look for something we overlooked or something that can be expanded on and turn that into a post to go with the video. Sometimes I’m done in an hour. Other times I’ll go on a long rant or add to what I said on the show, and end up spending most of the evening on it.
I dislike having a block of three Spoiler Warning posts in a row. Some people aren’t into the whole “video content” thing, and I like to give them one more prose post before the week ends. If I’ve only got one programming post or game review, it goes here. This is where I want to put long essays or topics that will incite a lot of discussion. That will give the prose-only folks something to chew on for the last two days of the week. I really hate not having a Thursday essay, but if I’m running out of creative juice then the Thursday post is usually the first casualty.
Later in the day, I post the second episode of Spoiler Warning. Some deal as Wednesday: Watch the show, look for topics, turn them into a 300-ish word post.
The week winds down. I officially quit at the end of the day on Friday. Friday evening is family time. Josh usually griefs me by putting up Spoiler Warning at the last possible moment. So I’m sitting there at 5pm wondering if the final episode is going to appear and I’ll need to hang around so I can bang out a half-assed post, or if it isn’t going to appear and I can knock off for the week and grab ice cream with the kids, thus leaving Spoiler Warning for my already-full Sunday.
To be fair to Josh: A lot of the blame goes to Adobe Premiere, which seems likely to crash in inverse proportion to how long you have before your deadline. Many Friday evenings have been thrown into doubt because Premiere decided to crash 45 minutes into its hour-long encode time.
At sundown, I’m done. Check in the code. Answer the emails. Read the last comments, and go do something else.
I think having a day off is really important for my creative process. It’s one day where I make no content. Instead I play games, spend time with the family, and generally avoid doing the stuff I do for a living. This is to avoid burnout and give long-form essays time to bake. By the time Sunday rolls around, I’m usually chomping at the bit to get going.
So that’s a rare peek into the fast-paced, exotic lifestyle of someone who writes things and puts them on the internet.
Enough stalling. I’m off to write my column. I think I’m going to talk about the new GoG.com client, but we’ll see.
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