All of us have experienced this at one time or another – we feel that we just cannot do the work. There are days when we feel that nothing can induce me to do the work – its too painful.
Pain can be physical or metaphorical. Halfway through a project, when the stakes are higher, when the problems in the prose or plot or composition is evident, but its not evident how to resolve it. When your real life intrudes and you have family, friends, colleagues clamoring for your attention, and working on your side project seems foolish, selfish and just plain wrong. When your favourite TV show is recorded and the pizza has been delivered, and you want to spend the entire evening vegetating on the couch.
Today I am going through my own version of working through the pain. I had set aside a whole glorious day to work on my book – with no household responsibilities for a rare weekend, I knew I had a rare opportunity to put in the hours, especially as I have not been able to make a lot of progress the past few days for various reasons. And out of nowhere, I was hit this morning by the worst toothache I have ever experienced. I have been feeling little twinges over the week, but postponed the dentist appointment as a) I am scared of dentists (who isn’t?), and b) I didn’t think I could afford the interruption to my routine, and decided I would just make the appointment for next week.
Big mistake – because now my whole jaw is throbbing, and I am not even able to isolate the pain. The earliest appointment I can get is Monday morning now. The worst part though is that I was meant to be working – and I faced the possibility of just losing an entire workday.
As I have said elsewhere, that maybe even when you can’t face working all day, you might be able to work fifteen minutes. I told myself that I had to work through the pain, but that I would settle for intervals of 15 minutes of work. I managed to make some progress on my project – not a lot, but at least some. Progress that I wouldn’t have made if I had just written off the whole workday.
Now I am not suggesting that if you’re hurt or sick you should work instead of seeing a doctor. I am just saying that sometimes we are quick to decide that a particular designated chunk of time can’t be used because we are tired, or not motivated, or hurt that our date from last night hasn’t called yet. Maybe it hurts, but it is possible to work through the pain, even if for just fifteen minutes.