Jess Nickelsen: Discombobulated
September 23, 2021 - Feeling meh, outline struggles, adventures in your mind


(We’re out of lockdown now, BTW. In Level 2, which technically is a form of lockdown. But you can go places and do things. Preferably with a mask on.)

I’m finding it really hard to be productive at the moment. Well, shall we just say I’m finding it hard to get things done that I want to do on any given day? It’s like the on-track part of me got a bit smooshy during lockdown. I have so many things I want to do, and want to get done, only I get to 2:30, when it’s time to go pick up Leila from school, and I look around and hardly anything’s happened.

It’s not even like I don’t set goals. I even have a Kanban board in Obsidian. Maybe that’s the problem. Obsidian is feeling too much at the moment. I put everything in there and now I don’t want to go in.

It’s the same with this Felathia rewrite. I always want to do a plan before I start and whenever I sit down to work on one, my brain blanks on me. But serious writers all go with outlines, don’t they? Serious?” I mean, I know that’s not really true, but I feel like my way” is so wayward and chaotic and, well, wasteful. But maybe that’s just how it goes? Maybe that’s just what I have to deal with?

I’ve been doing daily morning pages (not today though, haha!) and so I haven’t been blogging as much. I guess there’s only so much room for that sort of writing in my day. Do I choose between them? Morning pages just produces so many notebooks, and I have so many stacked up in boxes and suitcases, and I very rarely go back and read them. But it’s a compulsion, writing in them. Journaling. Diarising. Even though under lockdown we really don’t go anywhere or do anything.

Someone described Thomas Mann’s life as boring, in a thing I read the other day, where he spent his mornings in his study and then in the afternoons he’d go for a walk. And that was it. I feel like that’s sort of what I’m turning into, even though I do feel really alive when I travel, and something Dad said about wanting to fill his spare time with adventures.” His adventures are different from my adventures, though. For him, there’s just about nothing better than going on a fishing or hunting trip. Getting into the wild, leaving the world behind. Okay, there’s some killing there. Which is why it’s really not my thing. But it did get me wondering.

For example, when was the last time I went into the wilderness” by myself? (I wonder as I type this though if this is an equivalence; Dad wouldn’t go hunting by himself, or fishing; he’s going with a friend.) But what’s a good adventure?

I could take Leila to Somes Island. Or I could go to Somes Island. We could drive up the coast. We could go to Te Horo. We could…

…everything costs a lot, and everything adventurous” involves going and doing things. The thing is, I get a lot of woohoo” moments in my brain. The things that I get really excited about are more internal. Though when I am taken out of my comfort zone that can be really good too. And I guess by definition, getting out of your comfort zone is often something you do with other people. I’m just not sure how adventurous I feel right now, with Auckland in level 3 and the rest of the country at level 2. But how can we spark that sense of adventure in ourselves, what can I do to take myself out of my comfort zone, in this current situation?

I’m going in circles a little bit. I guess I’m searching. More like flailing around with wet noodle arms, but same diff I guess. Do I need to try to do things” differently? Take a new approach to…stuff? Go and work somewhere different? Take some time to go sit in cafes and describe people? Start a youtube channel? (OMG.) No. There are too many of those already.

I also think about my newsletter and wonder how I can take it from meh” to zowee!” Same with the blog really. It’s all the same dear diary” sort of stuff that fills my notebooks.

Okay, if I was to write a blog post on how to bring some adventure to lockdown,” what would I write? how to have an adventure in a covid-19 world.” What sort of expertise do I actually have in this area? I spent most of lockdown just blobbing and doom-scrolling. No-one wants to have an adventure when they’re in lockdown. They want to survive. How to have an adventure in your own mind.” Okay, that’s something.

You could go back through old notebooks. And make up a drinking game from them. Every time you whinge about your parents in your teenage diary, you take a drink. Hm, that probably wouldn’t last that long.

What about creating a notebook of your old notebooks? Notebook highlights? Do you go right back? Try to get everything in sequential order, and then start at the beginning. Not judging, just writing your reaction to what you’ve read. Like, huh, I’d totally forgotten about that,” or what a bitch, I hated her.” A notebook notebook. Mine it for ideas. Or funny quotes. Mark things up as Family History, Things I Want to Remember, Things I Want To Forget, Things I Want To Do Something With.

That could be interesting.

Or, go through your bookshelves and write down all of the books you haven’t read yet. Make a list and then like randomly pick one. Instead of going oh man!” when you see what it is, think of it as a mental adventure. You’re getting out of your comfort zone.

Your personal comfort zone. Those bits of you that you sort of avoid, now you’re all together and grown up and stuff.

Also, go through your bathroom drawer and throw out all the old face creams and things that are like ten years old. Don’t force yourself to use them up. They’re awful and they smell bad.