I have to admit, I love being a workaholic. I’m always immersed in a slew of projects, and my work on my next novel is a daily source of excitement.

For the most part, I consider myself a positive workaholic, as opposed to a negative one. When I’m knee-deep in a project that I’m excited about, it becomes the driving point of my daily routine. When I’m not knee-deep in a project, I find one, or I create one. I’m obsessed with the process of creation, passionate about the ability to sculpt words into sentences and find meaning. The stories I create are my heart, my brain, my soul. Maybe it’s the INFJ in me.

death

This is why I love my work ethic: because I love that feeling of getting up first thing in the morning, brewing some coffee, and facing the blank page. I even love those times in the middle of the night where an idea wakes me up, hits me in the face, and drives me to the nearest notebook.

But at the same time, there’s a downside to being a positive workaholic, especially when most of your work is done at home: you never stop working.

It’s so easy to let days, weeks, and months fly behind me, barely seen and barely noticed. It’s so easy to stay in that intense place of concentration, words flying from my fingertips, forgetting to even notice whether there’s a sun or moon outside.

darktowerlongroad-thumb-630xauto-56672

Now, as a writer, I should be writing for at least a few hours every day. Writing is who I am, what I do. Through writing, I hope to express myself, gain a better understanding of the world, and to do my small part to speak up about issues that matter, causes that deserve attention.

So yes, daily writing is a necessity for me. And sometimes, even writing all day can be an amazing thing. I remember one day where I was so immersed in a project that I pushed out over 100 pages in one afternoon, my heart pounding from start to finish. But days like this are not every day.

I love my career as a writer. I’m shooting to get my next novel out by next year, and nothing’s going to stop me from pursuing that goal with everything inside me.  If things move into place, I might even have some smaller stuff coming out this year for you guys to see.

But the thing is, all of the goals above are already in the pipeline, mostly ready to launch. The additional work that I’m exhausting myself with now, work that is being done on top of other work, is related to projects that might not be finished until years from now. Looking at the big picture, I think that I can afford to take my time on those pieces.

What’s important here is balance. That’s what I need to give myself more of.

Every morning, I want to organize my day into slots. Two hours of this, three hours of that, an hour of this other thing. I think this works for me, for the most part. But I also need to allow space in my schedule for something else that is hugely important: time to breath.

DSCN3440

A few days ago, I felt overwhelmed. I’d completed a huge amount of work, hours and hours of it, far more than I needed to. But despite all of the work I’d gotten done, I wasn’t letting myself rest. I was pushing myself past the point of exhaustion, even though I didn’t need to.

Then, I noticed the sun was outside. Now, while it’s been an exceptionally warm summer here in New Hampshire (why yes, hello there global warming!), the last few months have still been too chilly to spend any real time outside. But on this day, the sun was blaring. And there I was in my office, with a massive pile of work completed, and I wasn’t letting myself stop. I was stressing myself out for no reason. I didn’t know how to stop.

So I forced myself to relax. Yes, forced. Admittedly, this sounds like a contradiction in terms, but sometimes forced relaxation is a necessity. Trust me, I know! I stepped away from my desk, grabbed a book, sat outside in the warm rays of the sun, and I read for a few hours. I gave myself that time to unwind, to just bask in the satisfaction of all of the work I had completed. I gave myself a moment to embrace my sheer existence as a human being, to smile, to read for as long as I wanted to.

Time to breathe.

Again, balance is everything. This doesn’t mean that working hard isn’t important, but other things are important as well. Balance.

DSCN0377

I’m not someone who belongs to a specific organized religion, but I do consider myself a spiritual person, and one of the qualities that I value about all religions, from all cultures, is the notion of finding inner peace. Calmness. Meditation. Caring for others, acting upon one’s compassion, but also finding balance in oneself. Instead of relying on conditional happiness that comes from the external world, I find that true and unconditional happiness comes from within.

Capitalist society can drive someone to madness with its push to keep us moving-moving-moving like a locomotive. This only makes it all the more important to sometimes stop, and focus. We need to pause for those moments where we can take in the world around us, look up to the sky, and love the fact that we’re lucky enough to be alive.

As a creative person, I need to always be pursuing my passions. But as a human being, no better or worse than any other human being, I also need moments to breathe. We’re all the same. We’re all equal. We all need the same things, deep down. It’s important to remember that.

Balance is everything.

sunset

 

Advertisements

42 thoughts on “Remember to Breathe

  1. Nicholas, my friend, I feel that this post is exactly what I need! Why, you may (or may not) ask? You see, I struggle very much with finding a balance in my every day life. As a creative person, I certainly relate to becoming consumed with one project or another; but at the same time, I desperately NEED to read, too, as all writers do. (By the way, I envy your ability to simply lounge outside, basking in the sunshine and reading for hours, without any external distractions and/or interruptions.) Anyway, I guess I’m trying to say that I can’t seem to have the best of both worlds, you know?
    I also doesn’t help that for almost a year and a half now, it’s a real struggle to concentrate on what I’m reading. In fact, it has gotten to the point that I’m tired of trying, and I sometimes go days without picking up a book. As you can probably imagine, said inability to read impacts my writing, not to mention my moods, which in turn, impacts everyone around me. Sadly, my wife receives the brunt end of my frustrations.
    Please help me find a balance that works for me.

    Thank you for writing.:)

    • Yes, balance is always the struggle! Thank you for your comment Dustin, your words are always appreciated.

      As far as finding more time for reading: one thing that has worked for me in the past, when things get exceptionally busy, is just bringing my current book with me everywhere I go. To interviews, the train station, the doctor’s office, or wherever, because there are always a couple spare minutes that can be used to get in some good reading time, even if it’s just a page or two. Hope this helps, as it really has helped me in the past!

      • Thank you for getting back to me promptly, I appreciated it.

        Time isn’t the issue; I only wish it were that simple. My mind inevitably wanders whenever I attempt to read. Although I am thirty-six, my wife earnestly believes that I have ADD.

  2. Its very important to take a step back and relax isn’t it. I’m always writing, reviewing, or doing some new project or other, I love it, but its a busy schedule, and it can be a bit all consuming sometimes. Great that you took some time out to breath so to speak, wonderful post here, full of good points, and sound advice for us all. Actually, I’ve taken a break over Easter, really nice to relax and spend time with family and get away from it all for a bit. I think your last line summed it up perfectly, balance is everything 🙂

    • Haha, yes, the third part of the puzzle! I actually do get a lot of social time in, but I find that part of the puzzle fairly easy, as I do most of my socializing in the afternoon/evening hours. This way, once I’ve gotten a sizable amount of work done, I feel pretty comfortable relaxing and spending time with people.

      But I do find that the time spent to myself, introspecting/reading/etc., is the hardest part of the balance to achieve, since it requires letting myself relax out of my own initiative — but it’s a very important part of the puzzle, for mental happiness!

  3. Good Balance is the key to good health, especially mental health. Yes, it’s easy to get carried away, to forget to sleep or not notice time slipping away from you during the day but exhaustion can be really detrimental if you get overtired and start hallucinating….especially if it’s that you have a person in the house who keeps popping in with hot coffees. There will be says when time does run away and you’re willing to let it but you can’t allow it too often. Set an alarm clock if needs be just to make sure you take some time away from your desk with a book to read instead of the one to write.
    Treat yourself kindly.
    Hugs

  4. Balance is a challenging thing, what with crappy jobs getting in the way of anything worthwhile but paying the rent it is a tough thing. It’s very exciting that you have projects that are slow burners and will be ready maybe in a few years. As a reviewer, my relaxing is also my job, sadly not my day job unfortunately.

  5. There’s nothing quite like nature to bring out the balance. Here’s wishing you more of that as you ‘slot your projects…here…there…everywhere.’ One those glorious days, savor that cup of coffee in nature and b.r.e.a.t.h.e. Namaste.

    • Thank you! Yes, that’s always the struggle, because it seems selfish on a surface level – but when you consider it more deeply, giving yourself that bit of time actually allows you the energy to give more to others during shared time, since you’ve had the time to unwind, de-stress, et cetera.

  6. Oh Nicholas… Sometimes I feel like we are so alike in some ways that it’s almost scary aha. I feel like I could have written the exact same post. I hope you find and take time to breathe and hopefully, we can go and breathe together (^^) this summer!

Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s