Perhaps you’ve heard the term being used lately. In my circles, it’s used to denote hard work, really moving to get ahead, or stay ahead, because – and this is the really good part – when you’re not working, somewhere, somebody else is.
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with hard work. It’s the only thing that’ll get you anywhere.
But let’s dissect that thought.
First, it implies that this is a competition. A Zero-Sum game where one person’s success takes away from the success of someone else. That’s not the way writing works. It is, in fact, the opposite of the way writing works.
Second, it also implies that you can’t ever take a break. If you do, there’s this veiled “Someone” who has (as it’s implied) greater endurance than you. They’re still hustling. When they catch you, they’ll beat you (Because there can be only one…)
So you’ve got to keep hustling, yourself. To the exclusion of everything else. Past the point where you’re adding anything substantial to your work. Past the point where it’s healthy to continue. When the well runs dry, damn it, you dig deeper.
Don’t do this. Take care of yourself.
Without you, there is no art.
So be honest with yourself. Know when you need to take a break. To refill that well.
Remember that no two writer’s experiences are identical. Try not to compare yourself to others*
And, when you sit down to work, work hard.
When you’re spent, when you’ve done as much as you can, stop.
No one can do more than that.
*Full disclosure: This is something that I sometimes struggle with. That I have to remind myself not to do.