#118: A Friendly Reminder

I get on the tube at my local station just after breakfast. I change to a train and then another one. The damp English countryside as it usually is in November passes by outside the window. I have a quick lunch at the airport before boarding a flight at two o’clock. We land two hours later, and I get into a car to drive the final part of the journey to my destination. I eat dinner with my relatives overseas at seven – about eight hours after leaving home.

This is a typical journey that I take when going on holiday. I’m on holiday right now, as a matter of fact, taking some time away from the hustle and bustle of London. I intend to spend it with family, catching up with everyone and having many a large meal together.

London isn’t quite as hectic as New York City, but it does run at a much higher pace than where I grew up. Usually, I enjoy the higher speed. I don’t even mind the crowds that much. Seeing everyone go about their day with dogged determination can be infectious. But every now and then, I need a break from it all. I need to spend time away so that I can appreciate what I have and see beyond the little annoyances of everyday life.

However, it wasn’t always like that. I used to feel terrible about taking time off. I kept checking my phone for work-related notifications. While everybody else kept ploughing ahead, I felt like was falling further and further behind. Doing fun things produced this low-key stress at the back of my mind. That was, of course, the worst of both worlds.

Pushing yourself too much leads to burnout. A particularly bad one might take you out for months at a time. First, you’ll have shit time working on your project, then you’ll be in a slump. In the end, you’ll get far less done than if you took things easy and enjoyed the ride. The math isn’t too complicated.

You can grind out 1667 words per day for a month and spend the rest of the year recovering. Or you can write leisurely 250 words per day for 11 months and take four weeks off. In the first scenario, you’ll end up with about 50,000 words. In the latter one, you’ll have written a total of 84,000.

The tortoise will indeed beat the hare. In fact, it will dominate and then take four weeks off just to taunt its cute furry friend. Sneaky little lizard.

Anyway, this is your friendly reminder that when the oxygen masks drop from the panel above your head, you need to put on your own mask first. Your art won’t work unless you do.

What I Am Reading

I’m still on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. I’m enjoying it more and more the further I get. When doing the dishes and such, I listen to The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I’ve also discovered a fascinating podcast series from the BBC co-authored by Jamie Bartlett about the biggest cryptocurrency scam to date. I’m planning to listen to that as well.

What are you reading at the moment?

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