“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.”
Today, I took a break from my YA novel to tackle a writing project that was in another world: the script for a CD based on my start-up action guide, Birthing the Elephant. Pulling together the text I was crafting took the entire day and demanded a lot of concentration. I was working in my local library, which I have learned, is not the greatest place to concentrate. People conduct business on their cell phones, they argue with each other, they ruffle magazine pages relentlessly.
But after a while, none of this mattered. I was in the zone and I was cooking!
But at the end of the day, it was I who was baked! I was mentally and physically tired. I got to the point where I couldn’t really write another word. There was even a reading series going on in the auditorium, but I simply couldn’t sit still anymore. Afterward, I took a walk, which helped relax me.
Here’s the thing about hard work: it’s enervating, but it’s also energizing and enlivening. I felt wiped out and wrung out, but I also felt used up in a very positive and productive way. As our friend Victor says, I had “laboriously accomplished” the task I’d sent for myself today and it felt really great. I even pushed past the goal I’d sent for myself and did a bit of thinking about the next segment of the project, so I’m ahead of the game.
All this reminds me that stepping on the gas is really important. When you work on your own, it’s so easy to coast — to work at a level that’s not overly demanding. I’m often guilty of this. And yet, it’s so soul satisfying to burn yourself out in the service of something you feel is worth doing. Write on!