[Tripping On…] Obligations To Hobbies

I was talking to a friend that was feeling burdened by his creative hobbies. As I’m recovering from this spine surgery and making sense of my physicality, where I may never be able to push my body to its “limits,” I have to learn to balance my health with my aspirations. Last night, that meant going to bed early, when I stopped feeling productive or interested in doing much. I’m learning to reduce superfluous obligations.

I feel like it would be fine to quote what I wrote to my friend:

I think it’s important to still keep up with your hobbies, just… not as seriously. When you’re feeling stressed out, it’s important to find things that make you happy that aren’t obligations. Don’t write or draw for precisely one hour per day “or else.” Write, draw, or make music because it’s fun for you, and if not, then it’s OK to relax or take a long bath or go to bed. I’ve found that when I write or draw out of an external obligation, then I don’t feel well.

What I would say, though, is if you can, try to schedule self-care time for yourself each day. That, for me, can be one hour where I do whatever I want during a stressful day. I end up writing, whether it’s an essay or fiction, or some casual music reviews, because that’s what I enjoy doing. But I’ve also been watching a friend of mine livestream videogames on Twitch, or I just go in a path of least resistance. Then, later on, I can return to doing something more productive.

That’s what helps me.

How this manifests for me, with my avocational writing obligation, is as follows:

I still feel like I can write daily, and find it to be an enjoyable and productive outlet. I’m learning not to overdo it. I still follow a production schedule since it makes me happy to write, but whereas in previous years, I might have held myself to those standards more rigorously, now I just write as much as I feel comfortable.

My production schedule is an extension of the video Life Explained in 27 Seconds:

  • At a minimum, I want to write one essay per day. That does mean I fall behind my website’s publication schedule, since I publish two essays per day, but that’s a fair amount of writing to achieve each day.
  • If I write two essays, then I’m keeping pace with my website’s publication schedule.
  • If I write more than two essays, I’m running ahead of schedule. I currently have 87 essays scheduled, with 6 Rowing essays that require minimal contemporary editing – weighing myself, including a note about my current health – before I can publish them.

Naturally, overdoing this will lead to burn out.

Since I have about a two-month lead before I “run out” of essays, I don’t need to hold myself to a rigid obligation, but I also don’t want to fall too far behind. There’s a balance to that, then, and I’m trying to figure out that balance. How that’s been manifesting for me is that when I’m feeling like working on my writing, I’ll have multiple parts that I can do at any given time.

Here’s how that happens:

  1. I look at my calendar to see what I need to write next.
  2. I’ll consider how I’m feeling and what I feel like writing.
  3. If there’s any pre-production needed, like photos or research, I’ll consider if it’s worth the time to do, then I’ll go do it.
  4. I’ll set aside about a half hour or so to write. Currently, I have just enough time to write where it’s not terribly irresponsible to write now.
  5. I write, publish, and move onto the next essay.

Since I’ve published 1,639 essays as of this writing, this is comfortable for me.

I know that as I return back to work in a few weeks, after I fully heal and my spine doctor gives me the OK to return to doing physical activities including going back to work, I will have significantly less time to do certain things, including writing, but this is where it’s important for me to balance my avocational writing interests with my body’s need to recoup from my vocational pursuits. There will be days in the future where I can only write one essay, and that essay may not be the most creative or substantial.

That’s OK.

That’s where I think it’s important not to be overly ambitious throughout each day, but to remain ambitious throughout our lives. Let’s say I wanted to write an essay but I wasn’t feeling like doing that whole five-step process to write an essay. What can I do to “clear the runway” for an upcoming essay? I’m writing this essay out of order because I had two other essays planned out already for “yesterday evening” and “this morning,” but I didn’t feel the inspiration to write those essays. For me, that’s how I balance doing this sort of avocational work while also achieving a sort of maximal relaxation.

When the writing is relaxing, I find it easy and enlightening.

When the writing is more difficult, sometimes it unlocks new thoughts that can help me advance my life, but mostly, it’s not satisfactory. The way I’d phrase it is like this: If I’m writing and it doesn’t feel natural in the writing process, it probably won’t feel natural in the reading process. Sometimes, that’s fine. Sometimes we need to push through those minor discomforts, like how for me, as my spine is recovering, there are times where my body will feel minor or major discomfort. Those aren’t times to give up. But I should make note of how I’m feeling, and where, so I don’t hurt myself. That’s where, for me, writing as a hobby or eventual goal of being a vocation doesn’t burn me out as an overwhelming obligation.

A majority of what I write is what I feel like writing… when I feel like writing.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: I suppose I was inspired by “Halloween Dress-Up Prose” in that I explored how I write as my way of exploring how I’m trying to not overdo things. For me, I am compelled to write in my very nature. It’s compulsive for me. So I have to learn to temper myself, and that temperance, for me, involves assessing how I’m doing frequently throughout the day. Am I too tired to write? Am I too tired to do anything productive? Then I should probably go rest. Also, the title was subconsciously inspired by ibb & obb.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 September 14 [7:43am to 8:09am]
Last Edited: 2020 September 14 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.