Something about me that I don’t usually lead with:
I had an eating disorder for years, and that included a complementary obsession with over-exercising. (An obsession that, by the way, our society normalizes, encourages, and lauds. “Go hard or go home” and all that.)
Anyway, because of what I’ve learned from that experience, nowadays when I commit to a certain type of workout regimen or sport, I check in with myself regularly.
Am I doing this exercise because I like this exercise? The answer has to be YES or else I give myself license to quit.
(Note: I said ‘license.’ I don’t always quit, I just remind myself I have the option.)
I found myself doing a really difficult indoor cycling workout a couple of weeks ago.
Huffing, puffing, struggling to finish the interval. Sweating all over the handlebars. Checking in with myself.
Am I doing this exercise because I like this exercise?
“Well, brain, it depends on what you mean by ‘like,’ ” I told myself. “Am I loving this moment? No. But I know I want to stick with it.”
Why? I don’t usually like to “go hard.” But that day, I was feeling it.
Then, as if in response, the workout app I was using flashed this line across the screen as a I was ramping up for another hard push:
Treat the next interval like a pursuit, not a requirement.
A Pursuit. Not a requirement.
I write a lot about ways to make your writing process more fun so you’ll stick with it. But I realize that no one can find writing fun all the time.
Sometimes writing is a slog. Sometimes we’re huffing and puffing and the finish line is close but it feels far away. Sometimes the finish line is just far away and that’s why it feels far away.
If you’re writing a book, and you get to this point, how do you decide you want to stick with the slog? How do you decide you want to take a break? Or quit?
I don’t know!
Because, when you treat your writing goal as a pursuit, not a requirement, that means only you can answer those questions. YOU DECIDE.
No one else is making you do it. No one else can tell you whether taking a break will refresh you or whether you’ll never come back to that book. Only you know.