Pushing Through

Yet again, I almost didn’t write an article this week. I’ve written a fair amount already. My book is sitting at 5,721 words which sets me at 4,149 words over the past seven days. Almost 600 words per day. I’m pretty happy with that. I’ve not been trying to stick to 500 words per day, but that seems to be about where my brain stops during a writing session. 

So far, I’ve only sat for a single session per day, which is my attempt at moderation. I tend to overdo myself when things get daunting. I’ve always pushed through the pain to “get it over with.” I’ll often push myself way past my comfort zone just to finish something. When doing physical labor, this has earned me quite a few “you’re a hard worker”s. That’s great and all, until I push myself too far and end up injured. If I have eight hours to do a task, getting it done in two isn’t necessarily the safest way to operate.

Taking breaks is important. This applies to creative efforts (read: writing) as well. There have been a few days this week that I’ve hit that natural-feeling stopping point but I’ve wanted to keep going because I like the scene or I’m “on a roll” but this is a dangerous habit to get into. Pushing past the point of exhaustion—physical or mental—can lead to sub-par execution and sub-par execution can lead to disastrous results. I’m sure you’ve experienced this in your personal life and had to fix something that you did previously.

However, pushing through can be a great tool when applied sparingly. When you find yourself unsure how to proceed, just pick a direction and go. Try something. The key is to go forward only to a certain point. That point being how much work you are willing to re-do when you realize it’s all wrong. It might not always be wrong, but there’s likely to be issues.

When you find yourself stuck or exhausted, try pushing through. Take a few steps forward and see how that changes things. You might find that you like the outcome—or you might find that you have to fix a whole bunch of other mistakes. That’s okay, recognizing those mistakes and understanding how to fix them is how we grow.

I was working on a scene on Tuesday and I hit a wall. I was at that tipping point after only two hundred words. I had to keep going. I knew that I had to trash and re-write about 1,000 words, but it was important in that moment for me to keep going down that path. I knew that what I was writing that day would ultimately get deleted, but I needed to see that scene through so that I could understand where it went off the rails. I pushed, I wrote extra, and I saw it. I knew how I was going to fix it in the rewrite. I left myself some notes and moved on.

I could have walked away after those few hundred words when I realized I was stuck. I could have ruminated on the issue for hours or even days. It could have derailed the entire project because I was upset with myself. Instead, I decided to push through and see what would happen. And, while I wasn’t able to write my way out of the hole I dug, I found a few new ideas that will absolutely make the final cut. Pushing through works. Try it sometime.

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