11:29 on a Thursday. PM, of course. You don’t feel like writing. You really, really don’t. But if you don’t prep another draft, you might fall behind on your experiment. You might not publish every weekday. So what can you do?
I mean, no one’s forcing you to write. You don’t need to. Especially not right now. The world will keep spinning either way. Who cares if you don’t?
Haven’t you earned the right to quit? Inbox zero, the call where you planned a new project, the newsletter you sent out — you did all of those today. Can’t that be enough? Of course, it could. It probably is. Yet here you are, staring at the blinking cursor.
You’re tired, but you also can’t close the laptop. You’re done but not through. You’re thinking about what to produce and if you could produce something, would it even be any good? Questions over questions, but you can’t come to a full stop. You have to let them linger.
On the outside, you must look terrible right now. Desperate, exhausted, ridiculous. Who sits in their bed on a Thursday night, with short pyjamas and bags under their eyes, feet barely tucked under the covers, laptop on lap, typing against the clock on an orange-lit screen? Seriously, who does that?
11:46. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. A smile flashes on your face. Then, an immediate yawn. Maybe, you’ve got it. Maybe, this is it.
In any case, the indicators all point to one thing: Now would be a great time to give up. Now would be a great time to close the laptop, go to bed, and get some rest. Still, no matter how many times that thought crosses your mind, the only response you can come up with is a question, and that question won’t let you sleep just yet: But what if you don’t?
What if you sit here, just a little longer? What if you wait and see if words magically fall onto the page? What if you edit that draft tomorrow and hit publish? What if, what if, what if.
. . .
Of course, there is no alternate timeline you can track yourself against. No lifetime tree diagram of your decisions, each fork labelled “gave up” or “didn’t give up.” But deep down, you can’t shake the feeling. The conviction, really: A version of yourself that gave up each time would be in a much worse place than where you are now. Tired. Typing. 12:05 AM.
No one will notice if you stop now. Your parents won’t lecture you. Your boss won’t berate you. Your readers won’t notice. But you’ll always know.
Sure, the world will keep spinning either way. It always will and it always has. It was spinning before you were born and it will be spinning after you die. That makes it such a great, universal excuse — and therefore kind of none at all. You didn’t have to write the first time you wrote either. You never did. You chose to. You chose to despite the world spinning, not because of it.
Just like right now, you’re sitting there despite your condition. You’re not even sure who you’re spiting — the world, yourself, your first-grade teacher — but you know your spite has added up to more good than bad. What more do you need?
Maybe you have earned the right to quit. To rest. But you’ve also earned a chance to go on. To do one more thing. You have afforded yourself both, but only compassion can accept either at the same time. Find that compassion, and you’ll sleep like a baby, no matter which one you choose. Today, you chose to take the chance. Scoreboard +1. 12:19 AM.
It’s a great mystery all this. How doeth the +1’s add up? Definitely not like that first-grade teacher explained. One plus one plus one plus one and, suddenly, you’re at 54. That’s why the questions linger. That’s why the good what-ifs outweigh the bad.
You don’t care how you look. You don’t care who thinks you’re desperate. You don’t know who does what you do, just that there were many before you — and they all had to write one more time.
12:29. Now would be a great time to give up. But what if you don’t?
This post was previously published on Mind Cafe and is republished here with permission from the author.
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