Reconciling Joy & Productivity

I sleep in late, another day
Oh what a wonder
Oh what a waste
It’s a Monday, it’s so mundane
What exciting things
Will happen today?

Avant Gardener – Courtney Barnett

Lately, I’ve been trying to work on my ever-looming novel concept. The seed for this concept was germinated in my head when I was probably 12 or 13, and having undergone severe change over the years, I’m finally in a place where I feel like I have a story. For a long time, it was more of a collection of characters, with deeply developed personalities and lives, but very little in the way of an actual plot. I’ve finally found that elusive plot, and slowly but surely, I am trying to plod along.

Writing, however, does not come as easily for me as it does for others. My roommate, Nico, is a very prolific writer. He produces hundreds to thousands of words per day, extremely consistently, and I often envy the way he manages it. How does he simply sit down and make the words happen? How does he do it without needing to nitpick every detail of his environment, mood, and physical state first? The answer is actually quite simple; we are extremely different people. These differences have caused problems over the years, but in the end, it’s why we are so close. We’re bonded like puzzle pieces– our different edges just fit together perfectly.

My current puzzle, however, is productivity. Sometimes I think Nico views productivity above everything, and that works for him, or at least seems to. He writes, people like what he writes, and it makes him happy to do it. Writing makes me happy too, so why is it that I struggle so often to sit down and do it? Before deciding to write this entry, I lay in bed for over an hour, wondering if I should grab my laptop and write, or just keep watching The Right Opinion. Somehow, despite the fact that I deeply enjoy both activities, the latter seems significantly less… productive. Why is that?

Obviously, “productivity” has to do with the end “product” of both activities. When I write, I (eventually) end up with a story, or a poem, or hey, a blog post! I put the effort in, and I always get what I put into it, out of it. When I just sit around watch YouTube, there’s nothing tangible to show for it. Sure, I enjoyed myself, but where’s the payoff? It’s in my head. I relaxed. I was happy for an hour. It’s a distinct, obvious difference between passive and active joy. To write, I need to put my brain into it, put my heart into it. That can be exhausting, and I’m already exhausted most of the time. However, getting over that hurdle ends up being the most exciting thing of all. Sitting and watching YouTube simply can’t compare. So why do I do so much more of that than writing?

It’s Newton’s law, frankly. An object at rest will stay at rest until acted upon by a force, and unfortunately, I’m the only force that can truly act upon me. In the end, I still think that “productivity” doesn’t need to be the end goal of every activity, but it’s important to make sure I get some productive stuff in there. Otherwise, I think I’ll go insane. I enjoy being lazy, sitting around, napping, and I like watching the content that people out there create. I also enjoy writing… but it’s just a lot harder to get started doing that. Somewhere along the line, I hope to find a happy medium between passivity and activity, but until I do… well, I guess it’ll be a coin flip. Que será será. Whatever will be, will be.

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