Stop Punishing Yourself for Taking Breaks

Your dream is not worth this much suffering.

If I were to follow the “examples” of many successful creators, my life would have to drastically change.

I’d have to start waking up at four. Getting minimal amounts of sleep.

I’d have to work for at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

I’d have to make myself miserable.

There’s a reason I don’t do any of these things. (Well … sometimes my body wakes me up stupidly early, but I’m not doing it on purpose.)

Yes, I do endure some 12-hour days here and there if I’ve procrastinated too hard and need to meet multiple deadlines as quickly as possible. But that’s my own fault.

I used to live following many of the statements above. And I almost quit writing completely because of it.

These days, we are expected to do more if we want to be more. I can understand why so many desperate creators fall into that trap. I’m sorry it still happens. But only you can make it stop happening for yourself — or prevent it from happening altogether.

The internet — both its complex algorithms and the people who spend time using it — favors creators who sprint without stopping to breathe. More content isn’t just better; it’s essential. And it has to be good. All the time. And you’re not allowed to make mistakes. Ever. At least it feels that way.

Being perfect, always “on,” always moving, has become the norm. And that makes it next to impossible for newcomers to catch up.

It’s also difficult for already established creators to KEEP up. There’s a lot going around right now about YouTuber burnout. It happens to writers, too.

I personally believe that the rewards you will receive from slow growth and taking your time, maintaining your physical and mental health while building an audience and creating good content, are worth much more than what you might get quickly from going too hard too fast.

I know you want that sweet, juicy instant gratification. We all do — because from our perspective, it often seems like successful writers and creators come out of nowhere and make it big. But that’s not how it happens. It takes hard work over many months — sometimes even years.

Working hard does not mean you push yourself to the point of breaking.

No. It means you keep coming back. Even when you take breaks. Even when it doesn’t feel worth it. It’s “hard” work because it’s hard to keep doing something over and over again when it feels like no one notices or cares.

There’s pressure. And then there’s trying to meet unrealistic expectations.

Be realistic. Pursue your dream. But don’t make yourself miserable. Nothing is worth that.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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7 thoughts on “Stop Punishing Yourself for Taking Breaks

    1. It’s a tough feeling to shake. I do my best to work as hard as I can during the week so I feel like I’ve “earned” a day or two of rest. That’s helped me a lot the past year or so.

  1. Thanks for this excellent post. I feel this deeply. I want to achieve, and that tends to play itself out in my life in the form of MOVEMENT. Whether I’m working, at my full-time job, working on my part-time side-gig, training for my next race, serving at my church, or trying to maintain my domestic chores around my house, I’m not satisfied unless I’m doing something.
    The unfortunate side effect of that is that I tend crash hard. Sometimes I end up laying on my bed, immobile, unable to exert one more iota of energy. Sometimes my body even gets sick, and I’m down and out for days at a time.
    These past few months I’ve been experimenting with taking periods of time to stop moving all together. They way my life is laid out, I’m unable to take an entire day off at once, but I’m able to pick and choose a few hours out of a few week days where I intentionally rest. It’s beautiful, and incredibly refreshing.

    1. I can definitely relate to this. I’ve also found that making sure I have a few hours to myself each evening helps keep my momentum up throughout the week, even if I don’t get a full day off. :)

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