Despite the general malaise in the world, 2016 has been a fairly successful one for me. I’m definitely experiencing a lot of anxiety from local and global tragedies, but they haven’t ground me into dust like they would have in previous years. If all goes well and Russia doesn’t go full retard, 2017 should be very strong.
There are two major reasons why: I’ve been intentional with my finances and I’ve been consistent with personal creative projects.
The finance thing is a result of following Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. This is my second year of living without credit cards and my first complete year without debt. Mrs. Lott and I have a mortgage, but we have no consumer or student debt to speak of. This isn’t luck or magic. We got serious and committed to living below our means and eating at home. If you have a budget and a plan, you can make this happen.
The great thing about getting your money sorted is it gives you more time. If you don’t have to hustle up money to pay off a bunch of shit you wish you hadn’t bought, then you can choose to spend your time doing what you want. If you’re creatively inclined, this is essential. It’s fine to be a starving artist, but being an indebted artist really sucks because you actually get deeper into the red if you don’t hustle instead of just maintaining and enjoying your downtime.
It’s said that the summer before Jim Morrison started The Doors he lived on a rooftop in LA, eating nothing but oranges and LSD. He could never have done something like that with a looming student loan bill or the bill for charged tickets to Coachella growing at whatever usurious rate Visa is offering. He was just poor. And as much as being poor sucks (trust me, I know) being in debt is worse. It just eats at you.
Sticking to creative work is a lot harder. Especially if you’re toiling in obscurity. I get the occasional nice comment on this blog and the podcast has received some radioactively positive feedback, but none of my projects are likely to put a cent in my pocket for some time. Honestly, they probably cost money, especially if you factor in the time I should be doing freelance work.
I’ve written more in the past year than I have in my entire life. This is a great thing. If I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t have posted all of that writing publicly. I’m not ashamed of any of it, but a lot of it could stand to be edited. All in all, I’m really happy with the effort and it’s something I plan on continuing in the coming year, but probably offline, with the occasional public post just to keep things lively.
After my year of blogging is finished I will have written well over 200K words. That is a considerable amount and more than enough for a book. The downside of the way I’ve approached this blog is there really isn’t much of a consistent theme or set of topics that would allow me to simply edit all of this into a strong piece. I guess you could look at it as a meditation on what it was like to go through 2016, but I don’t find that interesting, which leads me to believe most people wouldn’t. I had planned to compile the advice column into a Kindle book, but that doesn’t seem worth doing either.
I really wish I had a central topic. David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries is basically a bunch of meandering rambling about whatever was going on in Byrne’s life at the time, but his love of biking around brings it all together. Other than by cantankerousness, this blog is all over the place.
I still definitely want to write a book, though. The podcast conversations have been fun and we keep coming back to this topic of dangerous nostalgia and people looking for tribes. That’s a topic I think I could explore interestingly and one that might even be able to find a publisher. My co-host Marc is putting together a book for a publisher we both admire, and if he has success, I just might see if I can pull something similar off.
Writing the blog has been a bigger time and energy suck than I thought. In the early days of this challenge I thought I might also write some horror short stories. I’ve made almost no progress on this except coming up with a lot of ideas and writing them down. I probably have less than 15 pages total, none of them great.
To be perfectly honest, podcasting is way more fun than blogging or writing. That said, the episodes are much better when I’ve done some thinking by writing. I probably have about 70 pages of notes on the various movies we’ve covered in the last six months.
Ok, so you’ve just read a chunk of bloviating nonsense to get to my plans. I won’t keep you any longer. Let’s finally get to it.
I plan to continue daily journaling, but not online. For my purposes, something like The Artist’s Way morning pages is way more effective. I don’t know if it’s the spiritual element or the lack of audience, but that style of writing practice seems to stir more up inside me, which is a good thing.
The blog will, as I said above, probably only have one post a week, likely longer than 1000 words, but not always. I think this stuff is going to focus on systems for living better and being more creative. Tony Robbins kind of shit.
Looking back at the data on my blog, this is the stuff that people really responded to the most, so I’m going to focus on doing more of it, but better. For selfish reasons, this is going to feed into a copywriting/blogging/content guide I want to bang out and see if it can get me any consulting gigs. I’ve taught a copywriting course three times and it was a lot of fun to do. Again, doing more of what’s fun and good.
If Marc has the stamina to edit it, I’d love to get Scary Thoughts up to twice a month. Even though I have a pretty bad radio voice, podcasting is the most fun creative thing I do. It’s definitely the most consumed project I work on.
So that’s pretty much the creative plan for 2017. Fewer, better public facing pieces, more podcasting, and as much consistency as 2016 allowed.
I haven’t said it in a while, but thanks for reading. It’s always dopamine boosting to hear someone say they liked something.