The wasteman diaries | Thinking Out Loud No. 35
A newsletter, on a Wednesday? What madness.
Wasteman (n): A man who acts like a boy, lacking maturity, and gererally (sic) wastes his time and life by doing everything to achieve nothing. This is and has been for many years now a term used by innercity teenagers in the uk and globally. — new word suggestion to the Collins Dictionary in 2012
Popularised around the world by Internet Sensation Ali Abdaal, the term wasteman is the kind of British slang that makes me feel old, because it’s the kind of slang that wasn’t really around when I was a youth.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried to reclaim it for myself. For the last week my thirty-three year old joints have been creaking under the strain of trying to live up to the wasteman ideal.
A week and a half of self-employment
I’ve been journalling, paying attention to the transition and noticing a few things that are coming up.
You can read the more or less daily updates on Twitter if that’s the kind of thing that brings light and joy to your life:
Michael Ashcroft (23/100 YouTube videos) @m_ashcroftGoodbye drinks had, leaving email sent, laptop closed. I am self-employed. https://t.co/0leToWCTVI
In the first two or three days, I just felt profoundly tired. There was an associated sense of relaxing and of my body releasing a load of held tension.
After that, though, the feeling shifted. I wasn’t really engaged in things that gave me a sense of fulfilment, but I wasn’t really totally relaxing either. My best guess is that I felt like I should take some time of doing nothing, but at the same time there is already a remarkable amount of stuff on my plate for someone with no job.
In a parallel universe I would have arranged to spend two weeks on a beach in a sunny country, but things are still much too pandemic-y to entertain such dreams. Instead, I tried to force myself to play computer games, if you can believe it. I bought Civilisation 6, which seems like a fantastic game, but I just couldn’t get into it.
Now, you might easily conclude that I am so wrapped up in Total Work* that I can’t let myself play, and I can’t say for sure that you’d be wrong, but I also have another theory.
(*I really need to write this up as an actual blog post sometime.)
I think I was trying to get myself to do things that looked like rest and play, but that actually weren’t what I wanted to do at all. And all while actual things I wanted and needed to do just sat there in the back of my mind, quietly getting more agitated.
This ended up resolving itself on Monday evening, for no apparent reason that I can divine. But I now feel more intrinsically motivated to do things like exercise, write this newsletter, update my website, make YouTube videos and work on my Alexander Technique course.
I have no idea what was going on, but I feel like I’m now entering some new phase 3, where:
Phase 1 (3 days) - exhausted
Phase 2 (7 days) - trying to be a wasteman
Phase 3 - ?
We shall see.
Now, speaking of YouTube…
Digging myself out of a creative rut
I last made a YouTube video on 7 December as part of the Part Time YouTuber Academy (which actually restarts next week, brace yourselves for video content).
It did pretty well, for my young channel, and people now regularly reference the core idea of the Architect vs the Archeologist on Twitter:
Aaaaand then I didn’t make another video… until yesterday.
I think I sort of ‘artificially’ accelerated my production value by taking the Part Time YouTuber Academy and sinking many £k into gear, and then got stuck in the belief that every video had to be shinier than the last. Whenever the thought occurred to me that I should make a video, the idea of how much effort it might be came right after it, and I responded with an “eeeeeeh… later”.
Which is funny, because before I increased my production value, I was pretty good at churning out decent ad lib videos. I’m extremely early in my YouTube journey, to the extent that I still have no idea what kind of YouTuber I want to be or what kind of ‘content’ I want to create or in what style.
So I’m going right back to the fundamentals and going for quantity over quality, with the assumption that quality will naturally improve over time. And, like the archeologist, that’s how I’ll discover what I want to make.
And here’s the video that talks about this, and the idea that “art is made of constraints” (don’t forget to smash that subscribe button!).
(I made a fancy thumbnail for this one and, yes, fine, Ali, it does make a huge difference. Shame about the black edges.)
London is pretty
I have near complete control over my calendar now, and today has been really sunny for the first time in… months? So I went for a long walk this morning. Here are some low effort phone photos.
If you enjoyed this newsletter and think someone else might too then please feel encouraged to forward it on. And if you were sent this email by someone else, then welcome! You can subscribe here or check out my latest blog posts.