On Writing – Productive Rest

The kid had talent. He could probably do half of the writing he wanted Hell to do for him were it not for the limitations on the meat sacks needing sleep, food, and to die- not to mention all the other stuff they let get in the way.

-Gast, Five Talents

It’s a standard attitude that a “Type A” is the sort of person who never stops, and is always working. There is some truth to that. I consider myself something of a Type A and while I’m not always working on my writing, I’m generally loathe to spend my time in complete idle mode.

Type A’s, for this reason, tend to make poor patients when ill or injured. We also tend to take a certain pride in working ourselves into the ground. I used to proudly stay up writing dozens of pages in a run until wee hours of the morning, only to drag myself out of bed for the following day’s work with pride at my dedication.

However, what one should learn is that, long term, there’s greater productivity in balance. I referenced my nightly schedule in the post on mental hurdles, and these days I generally cut myself off by 10, 10:30 at night to switch over to personal reading before bed at a relatively healthy hour.

The reason for this is the same as the reason why I don’t fight and push myself through being sick (as I have been most of this week). You’ll accomplish more in the long run of better quality if you give yourself the time to recover fully and then return at 100%.

I always put it this way to my coworkers when I see them dragging themselves in when they’re clearly in need of just a day of rest, bear with me being esoterically mathematical:

  • You can come in to work 5 days at 50% not letting your body recover, adding up to an average performance of 50% for the week’s potential.
  • You can skip 1 day (0%) and then be back at 75% the next, and 100% the remaining three days. That means an average 75% net productivity for the week.

Suffice to say, sometimes rest is good. While it might be difficult in the short term to see it as such, we have to look at the big picture and the net gain. If, like me, you are a novelist, then the big picture should be what matters. Although, I’m reminded of a line I wrote for my devil, Gast, in Five Talents, at the top of this post.

Despite this week’s little hiccup, I’ll be putting up the first official recording of Five Talents in the next few days, as well as continuing to work on Unicorns & Satellites and share previews of that. Hope you all have had better weeks health-wise than I have, but thankfully I’m on the mend and back at my grind. Stay at yours.

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