Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

August 11, 2011

A discreditable lack of organisation

Filed under: geekery,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 5:28 pm

I don’t manage my time all that well.

Looking at my daily schedule on paper, it seems like there should be at least a couple of hours in every day available for writing. The kids are generally in bed by about half past seven or eight or so. Thanks to our semi-socialist collective living arrangements, I only have to cook and clean the kitchen on one or two evenings per week. I don’t really watch that much television, and of the stuff I do watch most of it is according to my own schedule rather than that of television networks (other than the news). Most mornings are out at the moment – one or other of the kids will generally wake us up around six and then it’s all hands on deck getting them ready for the day (and myself for work).

Yet I rarely manage more than one or two evenings in a week where I can sit down and dedicate time to writing, and some weeks I don’t even do that. What on earth am I doing wrong here? Some culprits:

  • Social gaming – I’m in one weekly and three fortnightly evening games, which eliminates ten nights a month
  • Bookkeeping – the property management stuff takes at least a couple of nights a month. More than that at present, now that there’s heaps to do around taxes. Call that another four nights a month.
  • Reading – After a long stretch of reading very little, the Kindle has (ahem) rekindled my enthusiasm for devouring the wordcounts of others. Overall my reading time hasn’t increased a great deal – let’s say an hour every other day, or fifteen hours a month, or about four evenings a month.

Add in, say, six nights a month for the domestic culinary duties aforementioned (which don’t take up the entire evening, so let’s call it three nights instead) and that makes a total of 21 evenings every month which are more or less spoken for. To be sure I could usually snatch a sneaky hour here or there even on the busiest of most of those days, but at the very minimum I should have eight to ten nights a month, good for at least 1000 if not 1500 words, more or less free to write. At the very least, my monthly output *could* be between 8 and 15 thousand words.

It’s nothin’ like that much, of course. What’s the real culprit? It is, of course:

  • Video games – Uh oh. At the moment I am flitting like a ritalin-addled moth between Minecraft, Portal 2, Team Fortress 2, Mass Effect and, every so often, Half-Life 2: Episode 2. Not to mention the fact that I am trying hard to ignore the fact that I have several other unstarted or incomplete titles lurking about the old hard drive.

Ah, shiny, shiny video games. My bete noir. (Yes, Twitter and Google Reader, I am going to let you off the hook and pin it all on video games. So keep your mouths shut and remember that you owe me a favour). I have literally no idea how much time I am sinking into shooting uncouth young folk online, or smashing blocks with poorly-rendered digging implements, or being the most insanely bad-arse space commander in the galaxy.

Writing is a discipline. Video gaming is a serious distraction, the utter enemy of discipline [1]. I should be using games as an incentive to work harder [2], not reflexively leaping online and loading up Steam, only to wonder four hours later where my one productive night of the week went.

Also, it possible I should start going to bed earlier and just get up before the kids do. It’s much more quiet in the mornings, for one thing.

So, what’s killing your productivity?

[1] Except insofar as I really need to practise if I’m going to master rocket-jumping in TF2. I keep blowing up my own feet. 

[2]  Writer brain: “Just finish a thousand more words and you can go play your little shooting games for an hour.” Reptile brain: “You got it! So, we were working on our short story about capturing the control point with a Pyro rush on their left flank, right?” Writer brain: “…Please stop helping.”


  1. I would not get 1/10 of my writing done if I didn’t have 50 minutes on the train each morning. When I’m at my main computer rather than my netbook, the internet and computer games are WAY too much fun.

    Portal 2 is great isn’t it! Have you played the co-op yet? Oh, and you didn’t list Dragon Age?

    Comment by Andrea — August 11, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

  2. Yeah, I’m *almost* jealous of train commuters (except, you know, not quite). I just don’t have many patches of time during the day, before about 8 pm, where I have complete freedom to choose what I do. Which is no excuse of course – after 8 pm I could choose to write far more often over even most of the listed activities. But it would be nice to have a dead zone of time when there is basically nothing else that I *can* do. Discipline is much easier when the alternative is sheer boredom.

    Portal 2 is great. I’m slowly working my way through the co-op with a friend who does a lot of overseas travel. We’re getting there.

    No Dragon Age for me yet. Figured I would do ME 1 and 2 first, by which time the Dragon Age games would be super-cheap. Or Skyrim will come out. I am rarely at the cutting edge of the New Fun.

    Comment by Lexifab — August 11, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

  3. I agree, Portal 2 is great. I enjoyed the co-op too. When I lived in Marrickville I got much of my writing done on trains, so I also agree that it concentrates the mind well – also, when you need character inspirations, they’re all around.

    Mostly sucking my time at the moment – the CiSRA puzzle competition. I created five and a half puzzles (one needs rework and will go into next year’s competition.) If you want to check it out, puzzle dot cisra dot com dot au is your place. I wrote Big Question, Welcome to the Machine, Rime Royal, A Typical Puzzle, and cowrote Latin Pipes II.

    Gonna take a break before getting stuck back into The Game…

    Comment by Andrew — August 11, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

  4. Puzzles break my brain, dude. Even the easy ones. I am way too intellectually slovenly to sit don and apply ruthless logic to problems. I’m more the “stupid suggestion that inspires the smart guy to work out the correct approach” kind of contributor. Presumably this is why you encourage teamwork?)

    (Just to check that I wasn’t selling myself short, I went and took a look at Big Question. Sure enough, I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at 🙂 ).

    Comment by Lexifab — August 11, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

  5. reading blogs, playing LOTRO, reading on my Kindle – hmm amazingly similar. On another note, I googled you as I lost all my links when trying to troubleshoot the freeze/shut down problem that is developing on my computer (reinstalled windows). So I had to google you to get you back. I recall you made up the work lexifabricogropher & now when I google lexifab (our warm fuzzy nickname for you), other peoples blogs/twitter come up. When did it become a phenomenon?

    Comment by Jenny — August 12, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

  6. I know, crazy right? Some woman in Tennessee or something has a blog called Lexifab. *And* she got the Twitter handle before I did. But all she talks about are boring old words, and I can see no evidence whatsoever of rocket jumping references. So I mostly just ignore whatever’s going on over there and carefully keep an eye on the various internet locations which demonstrate I was using the name for more than a decade before her, in case anyone gets the idea that a lawsuit might be in order.

    In other news, usage of the word lexifabricography remains woefully sub-universal.

    Comment by lexifab — August 13, 2011 @ 1:04 am

  7. I was always surprised the forgotten planet domain never caused an issue – given there was a big store of that name in hmmm – London?

    Comment by Jenny — August 13, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

  8. I think that’s Forbidden Planet.

    Comment by lexifab — August 14, 2011 @ 1:10 am

  9. Ah , well that explains it.

    Comment by jenny — August 16, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

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