As I write this, I’m just coming to the end of a two-week break from creative writing.

Having pushed myself to the very brink, I found myself wondering to what point and purpose? Certainly not to enjoy life. Or work.

I’d gotten one of those ideas in my head that I had to keep going, push harder, can’t quit now. and with the prevailing culture of supposed productivity, is it surprising?

As a creative, it’s easy to get lost in the creative process and forget about taking breaks.

I’ve done that several times.

But the bottom line is that humans are designed to work with limitations, and when you remove those limitations, the humans fall into something uncannily resembling madness.

You can call it a rabbit hole. You can call it a hyper-fixation.

Whatever name you give it, that focus, that attention, runs on fuel. And fuel is limited.

Your brain isn’t designed to go on forever. Too much of a good thing, and all that jazz.

Humans have used highly concentrated fuels to make their brains run harder, better, faster, stronger – refined sugar, coffee, energy drinks, pills, we have a bunch of options.

But the cost of doing business with the hyper-fuel is high.

I’ve worked as a content writer, and boy do I hate “content”.

Content is what makes up the internet. Social media posts, SEO pages written solely to drive traffic, generic articles that repeat what everyone else has already regurgitated.

Producing content is competing in a race to the bottom that you’re never gonna win because content can be bought for cheap.

I know that when you’re writing books, when you’re a storyteller writing down the stories and characters that come knocking on your creative conscious, especially if you’re publishing independently, it’s easy to feel invisible.

Because you are competing with a lot of content or content-like books.

And you’re up against authors publishing as many as 6-12 books a year – some of which are pulp and that’s why they can be written so quickly, and most of the authors have teams helping them, so that they can safeguard their main job: the writing.

When you’re an indie author, you’re as much jack-of-all-trades as you are a writer.

Because when you don’t have a team to help you, you do it all yourself.

And when you’re doing all that work yourself, you have to become very skilled at safeguarding your personal resources.

It’s crucial for creatives to recognize when their creative resources are being depleted and take a break before they get to the point of burnout.

Burnout will have detrimental effects on a creative’s mental health, creativity, and productivity in the long-term. Recovering from creative burnout is also resource consuming.

Taking a break is essential for mental health.

As creatives, we pour our hearts and souls into our work, which is emotionally and mentally taxing.

When we push ourselves too hard, it can lead to burnout and even depression. Taking a break helps us recharge and replenish our mental energy.

It helps us gain perspective and come back to our work with a fresh set of eyes (and brain!).

Taking a break helps avoid creative block, which we tend to experience when we’re overworked and overstimulated.

Taking a break allows us to step away from our work and gain a new perspective.

By going off and not thinking about the work at all, will “reset” our brain as we forget about what we did before, clearing the inherent blindness that comes with creating something the first time – as well as clearing, or at least diluting, the biases we have.

We can come back to our work with a renewed sense of creativity and inspiration.

We creatives often have this belief that working harder and longer will lead to better results, greater productivity, etc.

But it’s usually the opposite, because when we’re overworked, our creativity suffers as a result of straining our nervous system.

Being in a constant state of stress, that fight-or-flight mode, takes a lot of resources, both physical and mental.

And if we never allow our body to come back to a rest-and-digest state, it will only get worse. Taking a break lets us refocus our energy and increases our productivity.

I’m not going to be waxing poetic about maintaining a healthy work-life balance because I don’t believe in that.

We don’t stop living just because we go to work, and so separating those two into a binary yes/no is pointless. But I am going to touch on cultivating your personal energy.

Pouring all your time and energy into work at the expense of living the one life that you’ve been given, is a waste of a life. You should be present for every step on your journey, your heart making the most of ever moment.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

― Lao Tzu

So, enjoy the journey and don’t worry so much about the destination. What will be, will be.