Due to a mix-up of article posts, I had this last week pretty much all to myself with only one article to write for its entirety. A website I write for, Moot.us, usually accepts three official posts from me each week, with anything extra being unpaid. This means that on any given week, I’ll be writing at least three articles, with an extra one or two for this website (or someone else, on occasion).
So a total of five article on average, and that’s not that much, but I’ve gotten used to it. It’s like clockwork at this point and doesn’t really phase me as much as it did back when I first started writing. I mean, writing more than one article per week felt like too much work back then, and it was only a matter of time before the ache of having to constantly write or think of what I was going to write hit me.
But that ache passed, and so now here I am. Recovering from that week off of work. I say recovering, and that might not read well for some of you, but that’s exactly the correct term for what I’m experiencing right now. You see, most people associate breaks or vacations with a nice reset of the mind: A way to refresh one’s self so that the work they return to afterwards is that much more enjoyable. But I’m starting to see that common knowledge as incorrect.
Lately, I’ve started to slowly come to the conclusion that hard work over extended periods of time doesn’t warrant a break. Instead, it’s rewarded with that hard work becoming easy work. And that’s rewarded with someone’s ability to do said work continuously while honing their craft in ways they never thought possible.
Take the writer, for instance. The ability to sit down and write for 2-4 hours everyday through the week and not have it grind against the mind’s patience is an invaluable tool for a writer to have. That said, it isn’t a tool that’s going to come with rest and vacation. Obviously, most would agree with this since it’s poised as a piece of advice for amateurs or those just getting their foot out in the world.
But what about when it comes to seasoned professionals? People seem to think the logic then gets flipped on it’s head: If you’ve been writing for five years and want to get away, most friends and co-workers might suggest a vacation, or at least taking a weekend off and that they’ve earned it. But this is, I think, a misplaced suggestion.
It sounds reasonable, and it sounds caring while also commending the work ethic of the employee in question. But the act of taking that time away from their craft, I think, will bring them more harm than good that they’ll need to adjust to. In the same way we want to have a drink every now and then (or every night), but we refrain because the price we pay for forcing ourselves to feel good is being forced to feel horrific the following morning. It’s life’s punishment for cheating our way to our goal, for inconsistency.
For each drink is a worsening headache, and for each day spent away from the work you’re building your life around is another day after where getting back into the rhythm and habit of XYZ becomes that much harder. I speak from personal experience when it comes to this. Remember that week I had off? Now that that time has come to pass, writing this very article feels like writing a paper for English class. It’s no longer a piece for my own website, or for my own career, but just something I have to do. And that’s not a good thing, because I don’t have to write, I enjoying the privilege of being able to. Yet, there’s that impatience in the back of my mind ushering me towards another match of R6, or looking up a new deck for Hearthstone. (Great expansion, by the way.)
That might sound not so horrible for someone in my position. After all, I write about video games, so what’s the issue with feeling spurred on to play them more? Well, it just so happens that playing them isn’t even fun for me right now. I just got into R6 in a competitive sense, I’m nearing level 50 and am about to start playing ranked, EU4 has been a blast, and Hearthstone just released a new expansion, yet I feel no real joy when playing them because that’s all I’ve done for the last week.
Imagine that, writing about video games you don’t enjoy playing. That’s a terrible spot to be in for me, and I know for a fact it’s due to my own willingness to take it easy. My boss let me know I only owed him one article and that was that, I was done for. I wrote the article and stayed in my room all week. At first, the eating schedule went away. The workout routine followed. Then it was just general things like showering every day and doing my laundry. It’s like I was back in high school, just not doing anything ever. I hated it, yet I felt so comfortable knowing I didn’t have to do anything. And that feeling of comfort and hate has translated into impatience and laziness.
“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men and weak men create hard times.”G. Michael Hopf
Make what you will about this quote anywhere else in life, but I implore you to consider in terms of yourself. What makes you a better person physically, emotionally, or intellectually? Is it ease? Is it time away? Or is it stress, strife, and an obstacle that is slightly bigger than the last one you’ve overcome?
Consider the fire you’re lighting under yourself. And before you decide to leave it, consider how far you might fall before you get back over it again.