Checking in on un-social times

It’s getting nigh on when I need to make a decision about the role social media plays in my life. At least when it comes to Twitter, whose 30-day deactivation policy draws a hard line on this experiment milestone. So why not check in, hey. Why bloody not!

I haven’t missed the Twitter app on my phone. Haven’t missed doomscrolling and idle-scrolling. Haven’t missed the DMs.

Without all this, I’m reading more, writing more, focusing better, and making more realistic plans for the future. I don’t think I was addicted to social media before, but neurological mechanisms underpinning addiction were probably forming in some fashion when I was at my most active.

That said, I do appreciate the value of having Twitter whilst not letting it devour so much time and attention. Incidental chatter with nice people is one upside. Letting others get to know you is another. Even if that version of you is curated, it’s still a way to break the ice hindering deeper connections.

Humourist Willie Handler recently asked whether you’d want to be a social media influencer or bookseller, which got me thinking more in terms of “who I am” versus “what I do”. I’m not a social media influencer and don’t aspire to be. And I’m not a great bookseller either, but I am a creator. I’m an artist and writer who seems to do better in the quiet.

On other fronts, I haven’t been missing Facebook or Instagram much. Pinterest has filled that gap with a delectable trove of interesting content minus the pressure to be on all the time. Friends have suggested Facebook Marketplace is where I may come back, but I’m quite happily not there yet.

Well, with my 30-day Twitter deadline coming up, I have reactivated my @jlperidot account to keep my handle. But I’m not planning to suddenly hang out there just yet, so how about we keep connecting without it 😊

500 words is fine today

After giving up on writing over the weekend, I fired up the old word processor today and cracked out a healthy 500-word session. Granted, it took about an hour and a half, but I reckon I’ll use every one of those 500 words and then some.

500 is looking to be about my average for a reasonable writing session. That’s not bad considering about 3 years ago, I was aiming for 350 words. Last year’s NaNoWriMo saw me hit up to 2000 words per day, but numbers like that make it easy to hide the amount of planning, preparation and perspiration that goes along with it.

It’s hard to let go of the high-pressure unsolicited advice the well-intentioned “experts” will throw at you—that you should smash out a mega word count everyday otherwise how can you call yourself a professional writer? Maybe that’s the go for journalists and content mill bloggers, but maybe—just maybe—there’s also another way to exist? This is a big, diverse world with many ways to hustle. Surely “publish or perish” and toxic productivity narratives are on their way to becoming a thing of the past?

This year, I’m (practicing) giving myself permission to be okay with a lower word count (until the next NaNo challenge). Six years is enough time to observe that perhaps I do have a process that works for me when I lean into it. 350 words worked back when it was the season for it. Last year’s NaNo worked during NaNo month. And 500 words works just fine today.

Starting the new year with a whisper

My 2022 has begun with deactivating a bunch of social media accounts. As of today, you won’t find me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, save for my blog feed.

Please know this isn’t some cry for help or a rage-induced impulse. My relationship to social media has been something I’ve questioned for a while. For easily over a year, or maybe longer now.

This week, I read Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by technologist Jaron Lanier, and it’s driven home a heap of my concerns. There’s nothing inherently wrong with technology that allows us to reach out to others and develop meaningful connections. I’ve made amazing friends through social media, who I’m very grateful to have in my life today.

It’s just that I don’t feel comfortable in those spaces at the moment. It’s partly me and partly those platforms’ engagement-driven business models. I don’t like what my chopped up feeds are doing to my brain and attention span. Every time I load up those giants, I feel overwhelmed and burnt out before I even get to scrolling. It’s a price I seem to be paying for a product I’m not sure I like.

This isn’t by any means a dig at you if you’ve chosen to stay on there. Social media platforms do make a lot of things possible, and you’re most likely better at managing the discomfort than I am.

I still read and follow people’s posts on those platforms where I can. I’m just not Follow-ing them now, if that makes sense. This is an experiment for me. Whether it suits or not remains to be seen. But for the time being, it does feel right.

To anyone feeling even a little pinch of fatigue, anxiety, foreboding or concern when it comes to social media, I highly recommend Jaron Lanier’s book. You don’t have to “delete your social media accounts right now”, but you certainly do have a right to know what it is you’re participating in.

If you’d like to hear about me, I have a Goodreads profile and a Bookbub profile.

If you’d like to hear from me, I send emails via a low-noise newsletter, to which you can always reply for a chat. Or you can just get in touch.


In an attempt to fix those annoying tech issues, I deleted all the social media apps from my phone only to have the subsequent experience (and rest of the internet) tell me it’s not enough—a factory reset would be imminent *DUN DUN DUNNNN*

So I was happy to drag my feet a bit, and found one pleasant side-effect of being app-less. It was only for a few days while work and other commitments pushed the phone reset lower down the priority list. But I found I could focus better on writing and reading.

That “hooked” feeling I’d get from feed scrolling transferred to books and I am so very pleased. I’m getting to stuff that’s been on my TBR for ages, approaching my work with a clearer head, and the weird thing is I’m not even going cold turkey on social media. I just don’t have the apps on my phone right now.

Actually, wait, those are only half-truths. I’m on a “feed restricted diet” right now too 😛 I get five minutes each of Twitter and Facebook a day (unless there’s something undeniably work-related I need to take care of). And now that I’ve reset my phone, I’ve put Goodreads back on there—but you could argue that Goodreads isn’t really a social platform, it’s more like a beefed-up logbook of stuff you read.

I wonder if it’s the combination of convenient internet-enabled devices and engagement-centered design that creates that dangerous combination. When you sit at a computer to do something, you have to sit at the computer to do the thing. But with a smartphone, you can not only spend your precious micro-minutes, but the extra tax of context-switching too.

Or am I the problem? Do I have poor executive function and self-control in the face of digital temptation? 🤔

At any rate, my phone is running smoothly and I’m okay with being a bit less twittery and instagrammy at the moment. My manuscript is running on schedule for now. And I’ve finally been able to pick up Perihelion Summer by Greg Egan and B.K. Bass’s final book in the Night Trilogy 😄

Photo by arvin keynes on Unsplash

Being busy happens when life makes plans for you

I reject the idea that being busy is a badge of honour. If anything, being too busy may be a sign that we’re not being kind enough to ourselves, giving ourselves time to rest, which is hardly something to brag about even if it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

We may not mean to be busy, yet life happens and we end up that way. Maybe in our pursuit of meaning and happiness, we took on one too many enjoyable things and overdid it a little—or a lot. Or maybe we got caught up in the hidden tasks, the unpaid labour, the little extras that project managers need Gantt charts for.

That’s certainly how my last few years materialised, anyway. My rearview looks like a long, dark tunnel, stretching so far back that I can barely see the pinprick of light at the entrance. But the road ahead looks brighter. April has been a raging nonce of a month. A heap of big, demanding long-term projects converged at once, which was intense but came with the silver lining of getting them all out the door.

Actually, no, they’re not quite out the door. At the moment, they’re still in the foyer putting their shoes on, but it’s progress and I feel better for it. I’ve caught up on a huge backlog of filing and admin as well, and am now getting closer to catching up properly on email, unsubscribing from ancient spam, et cetera. It’s been a productive time, even with all the recent pandemic business that’s been going on in Western Australia. Looks like when things go awry, I deal with it by buckling down, focusing local, and taking comfort in things I can control. It’s left me with room to rediscover things I love that I’d let fall by the wayside.

This week, I’m working on “Sunset”; I’m working on a novella release of About Henry; I’m working on maintaining work-life balance as we head towards the light.

And it feels good.

The pain you choose

There are only 26 days left until the new year. I don’t know about you, but this winds me up a bit, especially when I think about all the things I meant to do since January, but haven’t done yet 😬

Self-pressure is not the greatest thing, but I saw this quote yesterday:

“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

— Jim Rohn

It makes me question which kind of pain I’ve embraced this year, and which kind I’m now facing as we count down our sleeps to the end of the month.

I have many regrets about this year. Like the unfinished WIPs I need both hands to count. I regret the times I stressed over how many there are—to the point where I couldn’t muster the energy to just start working on one. I regret taking on so much work and letting everything get unmanageable. I regret neglecting self-care and mental health matters. I regret worrying so much about stuff that just wasn’t that important in the end.

I know I have workaholic tendencies. But doing more work isn’t the same as being disciplined about work. So, lesson learned, hey?

I’d like to be able to say, “Next year, I choose the pain of discipline,” but it’s never that easy. This isn’t the sort of choice you make once and live happily ever after. It’s a choice you have to make, over and over again, every time you hit that fork in the road between The Thing You Gotta Do and Some Other Thing.

Well, here’s to making better choices in 2021. It’s hard to feel too bummed when you still have the power to change.

On procrastinating better

Today’s world has plenty of distractions that can easily be shut out on a good day. But when your energy is low, even a single notification on a quiet afternoon can kick off a solid 20 minutes of farting around!

I’ve been procrastinating lately. Like, a lot. So much that people around me have begun to worry. This NYT article about procrastination belying hidden psychological problems rings way too true. Don’t worry, this isn’t a doom-post. I will be fine. However, I am fascinating by how easily a little innocuous procrastination can creep up and become a big, looming beast standing over one’s shoulder.

The question today is more about how we can procrastinate better. When we don’t have the luxury of putting life on hold while muddling through our psyches, how can we avoid missing important deadlines or stressing the hell out?

I asked a professional PA, Karisma Carpenter, to help me out. Here’s what she advised:

A dedicated workspace to avoid psychological contamination:

“Well for starters try to give yourself a designated space to get your work done that’s away from distractions like the TV and snack cabinets.”

A clear, easily reference-able organisation system:

“Set up something visual like a large calendar. This way you can put due dates and any other things you have going on in one central place. Try breaking up your task into sections so it’s easier to manage and not so daunting.”

Social accountability:

“Share your progress. Tell a friend or even post on Social Media what you plan to accomplish, so that you have someone or somewhere to check back in with about your progress.”

Hacking your brain’s reward circuits:

“Reward yourself! Everyone deserves rewards for doing things they need to, even you. However make sure you rewards are comparable, for example for 20 minutes of productive work give yourself 5 minutes to relax or do something fun.”

Mindful and deliberate self-care:

“Know when to call it quits! I know, I know, we’re talking about being productive here but, if you have been putting true effort into getting work done and nothing productive is coming out it’s time to take a time out. Trying to struggle through it will only make you frustrated and make your task at hand suffer. So do something relaxing like take a 10 minute walk, or grab a bite to eat and come back to your task. Sometimes being distractible means you need a break, so remember to look after yourself too.”

Karisma Carpenter is a full-time PA/VA I met on Facebook while struggling with some of my research. Based in USA, she’s a nerd of many fandoms who helps authors with things like design, administration, social media management, book promotion, project management, scheduling, and more.

Status Update — Sep 2020

Writing has not been a priority of late. Instead, I’ve been making time to tidy my dwellings, reconnect with my feelings, and try and knock over all the stuff my mind tends to wander to when I’m supposed to be working 😅

And so my things have been thus…

Writing and such

Writing has consisted mostly of boring stuff, aka. non-fiction stuff for work. My bread-and-butter writing isn’t especially exciting, but I must admit, it does bring some relief when I’m anxious or stressed. I suspect it’s because there’s no emotion in it, not like there is in romantic and dramatic stories.

None of my big fiction projects have seen much love in the last couple of months, but I’m working on a couple of short bits and experimental pieces. My “weird fiction” story got accepted for publication—yay! It’ll appear in the Autumn 2020 issue of the Kyanite Press journal.

There’s a teaser excerpt coming out in next month’s Dot Club. Plus more information on this blog real soon.

Tidying up my digital life

Which means closing accounts and retiring profiles I’m no longer active on. It’s funny how many things get “left open” out of FOMO or nostalgia or the fear that we won’t have it at some arbitrary point in the future when we might want it again. I’m in need of some proper cleanups at the moment, though, and that oh maybe approach is standing in my way.

As of today, I’m no longer on Wattpad, Noveltrove and Lushstories. Thank you, readers, for following me there. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy my work in the spaces where I’m active. Like this blog 😊

Health, fun & other vitals

Self-care means working on my goal setting and time management, as this is proving to be super important while trying to get all my adulting out of the way 😅 I’m also really enjoying nice smelly things (candles, soaps and oils) and delicious tea.

Currently consuming:

Recently finished:


  • Gloomhaven
  • Merchant RPG

And recently on the socials…

A sweet piece of my culture.

Riding the wave

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

My mental health has not been amazing lately. It doesn’t feel right to complain about it, as I very definitely have nothing to complain about. I live in an area with very low COVID-19 case numbers, where we can walk around safely without other people wearing masks, where even our gloomy weather is quite beautiful.

I kept my job; my industry has not suffered immensely (touch wood); I have a roof over my head, a partner who does not subscribe to domestic violence, and friends who check in on me out of the blue. I’m under no illusions here: I am very lucky.

And yet, there are times where words escape me or I stutter and mumble even when I know exactly what I want to say, where even the simplest questions are too hard to answer, where leaving the house is too unfathomable, where everything seems pointless or contaminated even when I know it’s not, and I laugh at jokes I know I’d normally find funny even when I don’t feel the laughter building from within.

It’s irrational and it’s odd. I wonder if it’s neurological or hormonal or nutritional. I wonder if it’s the cold or vitamin D or protein or hayfever or cabin fever or emotional contagion from others. It makes sense to blame workaholism and burnout, but in reality, I don’t know. The anxiety and depression—they’re just there.

Sometimes this just happens; the tidal wave sweeps through me and I have to ride it out.

A surfer rides a wave under a pink sunset sky
Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

15 tips from my writer self-care toolbox

I’m lucky enough to have my health and a lot of choices for sustaining myself in my sedentary, solitary writing career. But even knowing how much it helps to get off my arse and do other stuff, I still end up burrowing into deep rabbit holes for long periods. The force of writing inertia is so strong 😅

Anyway, these are some of the things I have to make a conscious effort about in order to look after my heart, mind and body as I write. I thought I’d share this list in case you wanted ideas for your own self-care toolbox, or if you need commiserations, or just a reminder to get up and look after yourself today too 🙌

  1. Go for a long walk in the sun
  2. Stretch often throughout the day
  3. Do a core workout a couple times a week (planks are good)
  4. Snack on fruit & nuts as well as biscuits & chips
  5. See friends in person every couple of weeks (ideally over a long walk)
  6. Slack off every now and then to relax and recharge
  7. Lift heavy weights to maintain muscle mass and bone density
  8. Take purposeful “life admin” days so tasks and chores don’t keep piling up
  9. Spend quality time with family as often as possible
  10. Drink 2L of water per day (more on training days)
  11. Indulge/invest in hobbies without feeling guilty
  12. Set aside “spa time” every week
  13. Use chores as a way to take a break
  14. Put on good music/podcats/TV often
  15. Make time to just daydream

What are some of the things on your writer self-care list?

Edit 20 Aug 2020: This is a very important #16 that must be on here…

Now go do that thing you gotta go do 🤗