Today’s topic is a recurring theme in many of my stories. As a writer, I think life lessons make the best themes.
When I’m not writing, I sometimes draw to keep the visual artist in me in shape (I’m an artist by trade who enjoys writing fiction). Like any exercise, I think it’s healthiest to exercise in moderation. Too much at once burns us out.
Burnout was a common problem when I was a teen and young adult. My friends and I often overdid things, whether it was playing baseball or jamming with musical instruments. In between Little League and Pony League games, we would play ball from sunup to sundown in the summer. When I drummed for a band, we would sometimes jam for eight hours straight or longer. The philosophy was simple: the more we did, the better we got. But the reality was, we crashed and burned a lot and put a load of stress on our mental and physical health. I learned early the benefits of doing things in moderation.
I do everything in moderation now. People who like to fling insults, call it laziness. It isn’t. It’s doing what you love doing when you’re at your best.
When I write my stories (and these posts for my blogs), I write in short installments. I don’t force myself to reach a word count. I don’t write every day. I write when I feel the time is right, usually in the mornings, sometimes at night. My mother called that feeling a sixth sense. You just know it’s time when you feel it. If I don’t feel it, I don’t write. The same is true when I draw or paint. And that feeling usually lasts for an hour or two. I stop when it’s gone because I know if I continue, I’ll force the process, take the joy out of it, and have to live with that feeling of burnout. Some people call it writer’s block. I think the proper word is stupor. We can put ourselves in stupors doing many things for too long at once.
Not everyone agrees with me on this, notably those who train for achieving high endurance. They say, If you don’t feel the burn, you’ll never reach the height of your goals. You have to push, push, push yourself and keep pushing.
But then … BAM!
You hit the wall at full speed.
Many childhood memories have popped up while writing this. One in particular involves a high school girl on her track team. She was lanky, ran and jumped well, and ended up marrying me years later. But I digress. She was running the hurdles when her trailing leg didn’t clear the top of a hurdle. The impact shattered her kneecap. She lay on the track, writhing in pain. Her coach ran to her, helped her to her feet, and made her limp to the finish line because he had no room for quitters on his team. Her painful trip across the finish line caused extra damage to her shattered knee, which had to be replaced by an artificial one.
I’m a firm believer of not quitting a project. Do not lose sight of the finish line. But if what you’re doing has you lying on the track, stop doing it. If someone tries to force you to finish when you should be doing something else, do the something else before you cause more damage. In my wife’s case, she should have been on a stretcher, not limping in agonizing pain to the finish line. But sometimes when you’re doing the job for someone else’s glory and esteem, you have to limp to the finish line not at your best to meet a deadline.
But to be your best at a personal level, you must know when it’s time to stop and rest before you continue. Personally, coming back to a project after I’m refreshed has always opened my eyes to errors I made while limping, and to ways of improving the project. Every time. That’s why many writers hide their first drafts away for a time before returning for the rewrite. Fresh eyes and mind.
In summary, doing things in moderation and taking time to rest increases your quality of life, which increases your quality of work.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading
Peace and love.
This post “Quality In Our Lives” copyright © 2022 Steven Leo Campbell at stevecampbellcreations.com – All rights reserved.
2 thoughts on “Quality In Our Lives”
I was having trouble starting my new novel, so I wrote a short story for an anthology. The break helped me look at the novel with refreshed purpose.
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Yes, that’s true for me too. I always come back to the project with a fresh perspective after a break. But it took many failed stories before I learned how valuable it is to take breaks.
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