There's a sort of magic in the everyday. There are so many coincidences that happen every moment to allow you to be happy. I went to the mall this morning with my brother and he bought the shoes he'd wanted, but in a completely different color than planned because those were on sale and looked even better. I got to watch Princess Mononoke on the big screen. At the café I went to in the evening, I got the number 24, which is my favorite number[1]. The barista wrote "Have a Magical Day!" on my coffee cup sleeve with little stars above and below it. It's a touch of whimsy and a reminder to find the magic all around you.


I had a nice time at the café today working on Spirit Parade. I finished another scene! I think Shuye's route is moving along nicely. I've been using the Freewrite more and more; I use it pretty much exclusively for first drafts now! I had a hard time incorporating it into my process when I first got it, but now it's hard to imagine writing without it. I know it's developed a reputation as this unnecessary hipster machine, but it really is a great tool for drafting.

I have struggled my whole life with perfectionism and procrastination. It took me a long time to understand that the two are linked. I often procrastinate on things because I'm worried about them. I'm anxious about whether or not I can do a good job, whether I can translate what's in my head onto the screen or piece of paper. So I avoid the problem and chase instant gratification. I think my spending problems are part of that avoidance technique[2]. When I finally get around to working on The Thing, I don't do as good of a job because of (self-imposed) lack of time or energy. Of course the paper you stay up all night doing the night before isn't going to be as good as one written when you're well-rested and not pressured by time! This was something that I did over and over in my early visual novel-making "career", unfortunately. I would run my health into the ground during NaNoRenO because I just couldn't get things done until almost the end. I caused a lot of problems for other people and I made things harder for myself. And for what?

I have some issues with the book[3], but The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck had this point that I really agree with: the sooner you accept your own insignificance, the better. This is not meant to be negative! What the author means is that we all are pressured to be somebody, to be special, to be productive, to strive more and more...all for the sake of chasing that elusive concept of "success." Once you realize that you are not special, that your actions don't really mean that much in the grand scheme of things, you become more grounded. With the pressure gone, you are free to pursue what you want to and to not be afraid of screwing up.

(Photo by Andrew Seaman)

What should have been the best years of my life—the last part of my teens and early 20's—became horrible years because of social anxiety. The social anxiety was sparked by a couple of bad test grades: my failure to live up to my own expectations. That turned into avoidance, aka skipping class. That became a deep-seated fear. If I was running late, I was worried that people would judge me for coming into the lecture hall late and being a disturbance. So I skipped classes and avoided the situation more. That original fear morphed into a fear that everyone would judge me for coming in after not attending lecture all week... The thought of everyone's eyes on me upon entering the room paralyzed me. In my mind, it was better to just stop showing up entirely to avoid judgment. I stopped attending classes altogether.

The truth is, probably nobody in that room knew I even existed. Nobody would care if I showed up late. Part of my being so afraid of their possible negative reaction was my own inflated sense of self-worth. Of course people would notice me. Of course people would judge me. Except I'm nothing, I'm nobody, so nobody would have actually given a crap whether I was there or not.

Done is better than perfect.

I should have shown up. Showing up, no matter how hard it was, would have been preferable to hiding at home. That's easy to see in hindsight. That being said, all those experiences, even my long year and a half spent as a shut-in...they made me me.

This kind of goes back to my post about stumbling. As adults, we should be less scared of making mistakes. We should stop obsessing over perfection and that dreaded "fear of missing out." Of course, it's much easier said than done. My social anxiety has gotten better, but it's still there. I basically ignore new employees at work for a week because I'm too nervous to talk to them. I still sweat bullets when I have to talk on the phone to strangers. Anxiety is never cured, only managed.

So, to go full circle, what I enjoy about the Freewrite is it forces me to not be perfect. There's no editing on it, no arrow keys. If I suddenly notice a typo two pages ago, I can't do anything about it unless I want to completely backspace two pages of text, fix that one tiny mistake, and then retype those two pages I likely won't remember by then. It's just not feasible—so I've given up on it. I'm drafting this blog entry on my Freewrite right now and I've made so many typos that my eye is twitching a little. But that's the beauty of the rough draft. Later tonight, when I open this on my computer to edit, there will be time enough to polish away mistakes, time enough to flesh out my ideas.

After you stumble, you can't just start running right away. Your legs will hurt. You'll be unsteady. Take some time to find the source of the pain and massage your muscles so that even beyond recovering—they will be stronger than before. Once you're steady on your own two feet again and running full force, faster and faster, there will be time to take a glance behind you, to think about what you could have done better. In the meantime, though, you've got to just keep moving and feel the wind behind you, pushing, pushing. That, too, is a sort of magic.

  1. I was so happy the year I was 24 years old and so sad the day I turned 25. I will never be that special number again. ↩︎

  2. The word "technique" makes this sound better and fancier than it actually is. It's a horrible, self-harming mechanism. ↩︎

  3. I could go into detail, but I think mainly there's a lot of casual sexism and dudebro attitude throughout the book that makes it hard to recommend. The message I generally agree with, but the delivery could have used work. ↩︎