I can tell that this year has been an ascension through one of my productivity cycles. I’ve been gradually, over the course of it, putting things in order, building habits of drawing reading cleaning and decluttering. With two months to go in the calendar year, I’m enjoying the results: my spaces are clearer, I have more clothes that I actually enjoy wearing, I’ve made over three hundred drawings, and I’ve read more books than I did in the previous year. All of this has been incremental and I’m glad for it.
I’m trying with this new month to get some writing done. I hope to make progress on a project that has been percolating for some time, but I’m finding that in order to do so, I need to root out some other bits of behavior that I’ve been stumbling over for a while now, mostly in the way I use my phone.
I’ve got some bad habits around podcasts. Anyone who is around me for any period of time knows that I tend to refer to them, and recommend them to others with great regularity. As of today I have subscriptions to 136 of them. On all topics. They have become the background of my daily life, whether I’m on the subway, at home or walking the streets. The first thing I do upon leaving work is to cram earbuds into my ears and hit play. I’ve been doing it for years.
The effect of all of this has been to create a constant audio veiling to my experience. There is always someone chatting somewhere in my head, so not only am I never alone, I’m rarely myself. I’ve created an ecology where other people expressing their opinions is the norm. All well and good, but I now find that as I try to write, listening is the enemy of writing. Other people’s voices, when I am not encountering them on the page, are simply too powerful for me to resist. I am listening for what happens next. I cannot pick them up and put them down as I can a book. I cannot flip ahead or back with ease, and it is becoming apparent to me how much I need those simple actions to get myself over the stoppages of simple writing.
So I’m declaring a moratorium for now, on my podcast listening. In this the second day of it, the results are a bit eerie – I’m having those moments of consciousness that you always get when you put down an addiction: seeing how many times during the day I reach for my phone, with the intention of seeing what’s uploaded and listening to it. Walking around last night was odd as well. But maybe I don’t need to wall myself off so completely from the city I’ve lived in longer than any other place. Maybe by allowing it back in I can begin to write about it more.