Doing NaNoWriMo this year, and winning, required me to make changes in my leisure time. Goodbye Netflix binges. Goodbye web trawling. Goodbye video games. Goodbye gaming in general.

I knew it would be hard, giving up what I’d consider my hobbies up to this point, but I needed to make room. I didn’t know how long I needed to write every day to hit my goals. I didn’t need extra distractions. And I knew there were demands on my time – demands I like, by the way – that could not be cut down. Wife, kids, work, home maintenance, dog, self-care.

What I didn’t know is how easy it would be to stay away. I’ve no had over a month of not watching TV. Or, at least, not watching hours of TV. I ended my Traveller RPG game in October, and with a small exception of getting an RPG idea out of my head on Twitter, I haven’ t thought about rolling dice for 30 days. I don’t have GoG Galaxy or Steam on my computer.

I don’t have a GoG or Steam account anymore, actually. Ditching video games was the easiest step, as there’s nothing new I want to play and nothing I’ve played I needed to revisit. That also helped in avoiding Netflix temptations. Nothing new grabbing at me, nothing old I want to re-watch. I’m at a point where re-watching a show I liked doesn’t increase my enjoyment of it. Maybe there’s new little things to pick up, but it’s a regression to the mean experience. It’s never going to be as good the second, third, twentieth time. I’ve accepted this, after going through the previous four stages of hobby-death grief.

Essentially, I repurposed over 20 hours of each week by shuffling hobbies. I increased my average steps per day from just under 7K to over 13K. I’m getting better sleep, since I’m not staying up watching movies or gaming. Not gaming has also saved me money. And the kicker is winning NaNoWriMo, gaining the knowledge I can complete a project, that I can write daily, and that I can maintain a daily writing habit of over 1500 words, generally in about an hour.

I’m not saying that I’ll never end up gaming again, or that movies and TV are massive, evil time-sinks. But for now, it’s good to have those particular monkeys off my back. Makes it easier to handle carrying all these new fledgling monkeys.