...and try not to fall back on it.

I saw a post in the Writing Community just a little while ago—and I’ve seen similar posts countless times before—about how it’s important to discipline ourselves and force ourselves to stay on our computers as long as it takes to get our stories finished. I’m not going to argue with it much because it’s true: Were not going to finish our work if we don’t devote enough time to it. However, it’s also important not to devote so much time to it that everything else in our lives falls apart, including our bodies. (I write this as my legs are going to sleep because I haven’t moved them in an hour.)

It isn’t fair to ourselves or others to cut out everything else of importance for the sake of finishing our work. Do we need discipline? Yes, but not just to keep writing. It’s necessary to use it to stop writing when we need to, as well. It’s good to set goals and push ourselves to meet them, but make sure you’re not sacrificing too much else to do so. I often find myself pushing others away because I feel they’re distracting me from my work. I’ll sit in a chair for hours on end trying to force out words that aren’t coming easily. I’ll go without food and water for the same amount of time because I’m so into what I’m doing that I don’t want to take a break (even though I keep both nearby so I don’t have to take long getting them). And the result? Well . . . I don’t know about others, but with a few exceptions, this extreme behavior doesn’t yield very productive results for me.

Forgetting or not bothering to exercise enough (I exercise a little every day, but I should do more, especially given the amount of time I’m stuck in one position) makes it harder for me to think. It depresses me because I feel it tearing up my body and because it deprives me of the endorphins that exercise releases. This combines with the depression I already suffer from to make me feel worse about myself. Starving and dehydrating myself cause similar complications . . . and more. I can go a long time without eating and still be functional, but, naturally, my performance decreases the longer I do so. Staying in one position often raises certain pains I already experience daily from minor to extreme. Then there are the migraines I get from staring at a screen for too long. That’s just naming a few physical complications. Over time, there are emotional complications, too, from isolating myself from loved ones. All of this makes it harder for me to write.

I’ve noticed that I’m much more productive when I allow myself to take reasonably short breaks throughout the day. When I take these breaks, I usually eat and/or spend more meaningful time with those I care about. Getting up reminds me to stretch and do some other exercises, and it gets me away from my screen so my eyes can rest. When I return to my writing at the end of my break, I feel refreshed and I often have new ideas for my story. Sometimes we just need a break, and our writing may be the better for it. Moving around, finding a change of scenery, or just participating in other activities for a while can help spark a new wave of inspiration.

In conclusion, it is important that we stay on top of our writing and push ourselves to complete our stories, but it’s also imperative that we don’t neglect our other needs, including time with our loved ones, which is invaluable. We usually don’t know how much longer we’ll have with them, a fact this time of year especially reminds me of because it’s nearing the date I lost a close friend of mine. What good is finishing a story if we drive ourselves into the ground to do it? So, I’m going to get off my arse and take a short break. I hope you do, too.