Less Pain, More Gain

As of today I’m 4,421 words into a book I’m writing. One of two books I’m working on right now actually. Honestly since I’ve started this blog and committed to developing as a writer I think I’ve written about as much as I had in the previous 4 months combined. I should note that I go to art school, we don’t do a lot of writing here. I think most of my writing since coming to this school has been facebook and emails.

Still, while I’m happy about this I’ve had this gnawing annoyance in the back of my mind over the fact that I’m being so productive in this area while stagnating or slowing down in others. My plan for the books I’m working on was always to pluck away here and there over the case of a few years, between three and ten, I have more time sensitive goals.

Part of the reason for this motivation is probably novelty, for me it’s always easier to work in the beginning when everything’s fresh and new, but my interest drifts quickly.

Then I realized what I was doing, I was being productive by procrastinating. I was actually putting off other work that I had set in my mind as high priority to “goof off” writing. This isn’t to say it’s a great thing, I really should have been more focused on my homework today, but it reminded me of something Khatzumoto at All Japanese All the Time talks about, the more practicing a skill feels like playing, goofing off or procrastinating the more likely we are to do it. The more we put it up on a pedestal and start putting this crazy pressure on ourselves the more likely we are to avoid it, if simply to avoid the mental anguish of dealing with the stress we’ve burdened ourselves with.

This isn’t to say that everything in life can or should be like just like play, firefighters, surgeons and front-line soldiers certainly can’t enjoy this luxury. But the more we can approach our life with this attitude the more we’ll want to work toward our goals, while conversely the more we make our goals super serious and super important the more our natural laziness can push back.

The goal isn’t to pretend reverse our natural stream, to swim against the current of our nature, but to go with it while consciously channeling it where we want to go. Of course there will always be times when we absolutely have to get serious, but if you’re like me you can only be serious and focused so long, the trick is minimizing the time we have to spend in this mode while still constantly growing.

If you want to exercise try signing up for a sports league rather than just going through the motions on the machine, or do what I’ve seen online and place a treadmill in front of your TV and play video games while running so you can have your digital cake while burning real calories. If you’re studying a language start watching TV, listening to music and playing video games in that language. Or you can just watch stupid youtube videos in that language. If you’re a writer think of your story like you’re watching a movie and the only way to see what happens next is to finish the next page. Or imagine you’re doing a TED talk and your words are being eagerly devoured by the crowd.

These are just suggestions off the top of my head, every person is different and works slightly differently so your milage may vary. Once again, sometimes pain is unavoidable and should be faced, but I reject the idea that just because something is painful it isn’t magically the right way to do things. If that were the case we should all still be hunter/gatherers.

It’s the people who had lazy minds who still put the work in who made life what it is today. You just need to find a way to use your laziness rather than letting it use you.


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