My first blog post here on Fibro Jedi dates back to 11th August 2015, a crazy 2½ years ago. As with my Twitter account, it was originally set up to vent into the Void about living in Chronic Pain. Back then the only games I played were SWTOR and Skyrim (a game I had to give up because of pain). I hadn’t considered using Social Media to connect with gamers, let alone feel like I knew enough to blog about them! A lot has changed in my life, and online, in 2½ years so please join me, and support me, in where this is going as I attempt to explain why this is called A Need to Focus.
I’ll try to be brief! When I first started this blog, it was super casual with almost no visitors. And I was fine with that. At the time I was running a frantically busy business with my wife. So gaming was my only downtime and escape. @FibroJedi became my safe way to vent about life with Fibromyalgia without causing issues on my ‘official’ Twitter accounts (which I no longer have).
It was thanks to @swtorfamily (which later inspired my @lotrofamily account) that a few tweets of mine were discovered, and helped me to connect with the SWTOR Community and gamers. My initial blog posts were actually me picking up writing FanFiction again. And I enjoyed it (and I still do!), even though they weren’t visited very often (which is still the case, which I don’t mind!). That was when things were alright for us in life – my pain was manageable and I was able to work.
Since that time, most major things in life have changed:
- We’ve moved house (our third in a 6 year period – the ‘joys’ of renting!)
- My Fibromyalgia totally crashed, probably a year after I should have stopped working (I knew I was pushing the limits)
- Because of Fibro we had to close the business, not even able to keep anything going as self-employed people
- Our daughter NJ was born
Taken in isolation, all these things could be dealt with. However, my health crash (just over a year ago now), NJ being born, our total loss of normal income and my inability to work all happened at the same time.
My Digital Life
While I would hesitate to say I am an influencer in gaming, I definitely contribute to the community of the games I play – namely, SWTOR and LOTRO. I’m not an influencer, because I don’t do opinion-based stuff (usually) and I don’t change the direction of the games. It’s okay, I don’t care much for titles.
But with my Twitter account exceeding 3,000 followers (goodness only knows how THAT happened!), and these crazy website statistics, I have to take my ‘position’ in gaming seriously. (click/tap the image to enlarge)
A year ago, inspired by #swtorfamily, I started #lotrofamily. I thought a few folks might join in, but with epic support from the community, and LOTRO themselves, even this has gone beyond anything I would have imagined. Almost daily I connect with goodness knows how many gamers through the @lotrofamily project. But as a ‘hub’ for community engagement, again I have to take that responsibility very seriously.
Other things I have since started doing:
- My YouTube Channel – for gaming videos
- Streaming – which is generous wording, because it’s very haphazrd thanks to my pain levels.
A Need to Focus. And not to Focus.
But what all these great things mean, is that I am very squeezed. My pain levels are still on the increase, NJ is requiring more interaction and our only earned income is my wife’s part time work. I get gifts from Patreon folks, which is massively appreciated. And I get a whopping £15/month (on a good month) from Adsense (paid when £60 is reached). So I know I need to improve our income.
(The rest of our ‘income’ is from government support but it doesn’t help cover the costs of living, not really).
But stressing about that won’t help me achieve it. Because of both gaming communities being supportive, these things have become a success. I intiated them, but your guys and gals built them. But I have realised I am…out of kilter, let’s say.
So finally I come to the points of all this – with two busy Twitter accounts, a crazy-busy blog to manage, YouTube, Twitch – along with unmanageable pain and family life is that I need to focus. So a few changes are needed, else I could end up back to giving things up because of ‘pressure’ making my Fibromyalgia worse.
- Twitter: I need to be self-controlled now and ‘do Twitter’ is finite periods of time. I cannot be ‘always on’ anymore. This applies to both @FibroJedi and @lotrofamily. I have found I am gaming less because of staying attached to Twitter for too long. It was my own choice, but I have reverse that. I also want to retweet people in the community more, rather than just posting about my own ‘stuff’. This is doable if I focus, which is not the same as spending more time on it!
- YouTube: I am starting a new LOTRO Series on YouTube, which will be my primary focus. SWTOR ones will happen, but haphazard.
- Gaming: I will continue to support both MMOs – SWTOR and LOTRO. This was designed to be a 50/50 split, but now I will focus on ‘what do I feel like playing based on how my pain is?’, rather than ‘I feel guilty for ignoring that game so I should do that’. The communities don’t put expectations on me – at least not spoken ones! So I need to not put pressure where it’s not needed.
- Blogging: I can’t keep on the cutting-edge of SWTOR anymore. I don’t have the phsycial or mental strength to try to write in the week something new is brought out. Instead I will focus on “Big Content”. In SWTOR this means starting new guides, some of which will be newer things, but most of which will be to encourage newer players to settle in. In LOTRO, I will be doing something similar, but also keeping my festival guides up-to-date.
By having set Twitter-blocks of time, it means I also have not-Twitter blocks of time. I need to still enjoy gaming, immersing myself in the various worlds. To use it as down-time. I need to not focus, if that makes sense. This means I will try to put this in place:
If I’m playing, I’m not tweeting. If I’m tweeting, I’m not playing.
I may need you to ‘call me out’ on this in the short-term until I can make it a habit.
Although I don’t have a job in the traditional sense, I am productive. Most of the time. So I think it is healthy for me to have ‘office hours’. This does not mean I am available for all these hours, but that during them I have some availability.
- Open: 2pm (ish)
- Close: 10pm (ish)
By not starting to be productive until 2pm I can get through my horrendously painful mornings, get two doses of meds in me, and do whatever housework I need to.
By finishing productivity at 10pm, I give myself time to just play, read, relax, whatever.
So I need to not tweet, publish blog posts, edit videos/screenshots etc after 10pm. So if a stream stops at 10pm, I’ll tweet about it the next day and catch up on tweets about it then too.
This will take so mcuh self-control, but I think I have to do all this to make time…for me.
TL;DR Thank You
All the successes mentioned above would not have happened if not for the way friends, and community contacts have supported me. For that I am really grateful. But I also need time away from ‘projects’ each day and re-find some sort of balance. I want to keep contributing to the player-generated content on the web, but not at the expense of my heath, or my family relationships.
Sure, almost nothing above is contributing to our family finanaces. But my wife has told me not to put pressure on myself to provide financially either.
I may nee to cut something out of the mix of things above, I may not. But if I can find balance then I can carry on taking my surprise role as contributor to the gaming community seriously, and adding value where I can. I’ll almost never be pain-free, but I can take steps not to make it worse. So that’s what I’m going to do.