A couple of days ago, I went for my first run since January – just a tester to see if my left ankle* would last the brief mile I put it through. It did that fine while I was on the move, then gave some startling prostestations later, when I took my trainers off, but nothing so bad I won’t try again in a couple of days and see how it goes. I imagine the best thing is to use it, though that’s based largely on wishful thinking rather than the application of common sense. We’ll see what happens.
Running is, of course, supposed to be the very cheapest of sports. A pair of shorts, a t-shirt, some decent running shoes, and Robert is the brother of one of your parents. This may work for those not embarrassing addicted to counting things. As you can probably guess (because it would otherwise be a very strange thing for me to mention), I fall into that latter group. It’s not quite OCD, and only seems to apply when I want to achieve something, but when the urge clicks into place, it’s compulsive.
One of the best things about running is that you can build on it at your own pace, and measure that improvement, but to do so you really need to count things. Miles (or kilometres, if you’re foreign) usually. I used to do it by planning routes, usually plotting them out using Google maps so I knew I was definitely doing, say, three miles. That got terribly repetitive after a while, particularly because I ended up running the same routes every time I wanted to do three, or five, or eight miles. However, simply by buying an expensive toy (which I could probably find a very cheap alternative to, such as being less compulsive in the first place), I can now go where I want, and let the watch tell me when I’ve achieved whatever it was I wanted to achieve.
Toys make everything better.
I apply the same compulsion to writing, through the judicious use of two tools. The first is the old fashioned spreadsheet, into which I enter how many words I write each day, and then let the spreadsheet autosum how many words that turned into over a week, and a month, and a year. It’s a strange pleasure at the end of the week, particularly when each individual writing session has been a hard slog and nothing feels easy, to look at the total and find out that you’ve accumulated many more words than you felt you were writing at the time. The second tool is an iPhone app called ‘Writechain’, into which I’ve entered how many words I want to write as a minimum every single day. When I hit that number, I tell the app and it records it as a link in the chain. Missing a day, or not meeting the total, breaks the chain and sets you back to zero. Simple motivational genius! That chain has becoming alarmingly important for something that doesn’t actually exist, and I feel quite crushed when I am forced to shatter it. Tonight, for example, we’re off to dinner with some friends. Beer will be consumed along with the food, and it is highly unlikely that the chain will remain unbroken. Square one tomorrow, and the new challenge is to beat where I left off.
Toys are better on an iPhone.
But it’s definitely not OCD, you hear?
There you go. My secret stats shame, laid bare for the world. There’s bound to be some sort of support group for this sort of thing.
Speaking of time (okay, I wasn’t, but there is a big picture of a watch at the top of the page), we’re nearly in April. That’s World Horror Convention month, and will involve me travelling quite a lot of the world to get to Texas . It’s all getting a bit exciting. There will be projects pitched to editorial types, and other bits of business to take care of, but also it’s just a great chance to meet people. Tim Deal, Danny Evarts, and Rob Davies, who I’ve exchanged probably thousands of emails with while Hiram Grange was being developed at Shroud Publishing, will all be there; as will Gary McMahon, Chris Teague, Brian Keene, Gord Rollo, Gene O’Neill, the Cutting Block Press crew, and many, many more I’ve known through brief meetings and extensive correspondence. There will also be people I don’t know yet (hello, you), and I can’t wait to meet them.
It all feeds into a shift in my thinking about how to go about taking my writing ‘career’ further, that I’ll probably share with you one day soon, but as well as that, I’m hoping it’s enormous fun.
* I sprained it so badly while on a run at the start of October that I couldn’t put any weight on it at all for a fortnight, and sort of hopped everywhere. Tried running again in January, and tore it up all over again. Third time’s the charm, possibly.