Middle Ground is Listening to Yourself
I see a lot of posts that say you should NEVER push yourself if you’re feeling even slightly less than 100% okay. I also see a few posts basically complaining about the former that say people are never going to accomplish anything if they don’t get off their asses and pull themselves up by their bootstraps or whatever.
So I’d like to propose a good middle ground. I’m a writer who works full-time, which means any writing I do happens outside of a full workday. I’m more privileged than many, but I hope I can offer up one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. Maybe it can help somebody else out.
Learn to listen to yourself. It will take trial and error, but there are days to push and days to pull back. Sometimes, the pattern won’t make sense. It will not match anyone else’s either, necessarily. Be kind to yourself.
Yesterday, I worked 12 hours, no lunch break, came home, and wrote 4k before going to bed. I was physically exhausted, but pushing myself mentally to write felt good. I had a lasting energy high from the long day and I let it carry me over into a productive evening.
Today, I worked a 7 hour shift with a long lunch. I’ve sort of half-heartedly written like 400 words. My body is still sore from yesterday, but today is also just a bit of a more tired day. I’m listening to a bunch of covers on youtube and mostly chilling out. I can feel that if I push myself right now, I’ll just be miserable and hate everything, so I won’t.
That doesn’t mean you should aim for 4k after a 12 hour workday. It doesn’t mean you should take a break after an easy day. This time last year, I was in a really rough place and taking a 4 month hiatus. Sometimes that’s what your mental/physical/emotional health is telling you. Sometimes, you just need to give yourself a little push. Be your own running buddy: you wouldn’t push your buddy to the point of injury and severe pain, but you also wouldn’t be running buddies if you never went running. Find a middle ground.
TL;DR, please listen to yourself. Learn when to push, learn when to chill out. Neither extreme is both healthy and practical.