Do you do too much? Does it affect your writing?
I, Lindsay Price, am an overdoer. In the month of July I was doing the following things:
- Worked on a play that is going into production this upcoming season.
- Adjudicated a one-act festival.
- Led a workshop for a community project, gave feedback for the plays being written for said community project, read 11 final drafts for said community project and chose 4 to be performed.
- Worked on the largest project of my life for my day job over at Theatrefolk.
- Recorded and put together 4 podcasts for said day job.
- AND…. AND…. maintained a blog, an email list, a facebook page and twitter.
- Let’s not even talk about that “dealing with life” thing.
And that’s just July. I’m not talking about the completely fully month of June. And May. And April. I don’t put out that list to say “Whooee look at me, look at what I’m doing!” It actually makes me a little nauseous. We’re not talking a bunch of little projects. We’re talking time consuming, brain power consuming, life shut outing projects.
It’s too much. And it’s my fault for sure.
I don’t know how to say no.
I want to do it all – if an awesome project comes may I want to make sure I experience that project. The past three years have been filled with wonderful challenges, activities I’ve never done before, all of which have made my creative life richer. But do I need to do every, single, solitary project that comes my way? If I take every, single, solitary project doesn’t that mean at least one of those projects is going to get short shrift?
Yes. I think it does.
Learning how to say no is valuable to not only keeping sane but making sure every project you’re working on gets the same value, the same quality and nothing gets half done because of a lack of time. What’s more important – being the person with a million projects, or being the person with three quality projects?
I don’t use my calendar wisely.
It’s one thing to mark out a day – this day is when I adjudicate! This day is when my draft is due! Marking out time for a project on your calendar is never just about the day. How many prep days do you need – or better still, how many prep hours. How many days do you need to work on that play? If you’re giving individual feedback, how many emails will you answer.
So while I’m great about not double booking a particular day, I need to work on taking my time into consideration leading up to that day.
I want to do a good job.
Yes, this is a self-criticism. When I’m on a project my number one goal is to make it the best it can be. But if I have multiple projects and I’m trying to do the best for all of them that means I’m working long days, long nights – many of them in a row – because I want my work to be good.
I’m not saying you should do lesser work, not at all. But if you’re working from morning to night, there’s something wrong with that. If you’re working without a break, there’s something wrong.
Writers use their brains pretty exclusively. Our brains do all the heavy lifting. And if we overwork that muscle it’s going to rebel. If you have a broken brain, nothing’s going to get done.
It’s important to take breaks, to go outside, to do something that isn’t writing. Because when you do, your brain will be better for it, your work will be too.
It’s good to take on projects. It’s good to have a full calendar. And it’s good to want to do a good job.
If you’re burning the candle at both ends, take a good look at what’s going on. I’ve already decided to take most of September off, and I’m already making changes to my fall calendar. I want to do this for the long haul, so no broken brain for me.
How about you? Are you an overachiever? If so, what are you going to do about it?