On Working Hard

People sometimes use the word “lazy” as though it were a psychological explanation, but it’s really just a description of behavior. Why do so many creative people produce so little work? Some blame practical issues involving time, tools, and distractions — but many of history’s greatest creators surmounted far greater obstacles. Most pop-psych explanations stress laziness vs. self-discipline, but I was recently looking at a book for artists which called that dichotomy a red herring: it said the real tension is between fear and enthusiasm.

In any event, my dawdling days are (thankfully) long gone. In recent years I’ve had the opposite problem: working too long hours, too obsessively, not stopping until my mind turns to a blur. I’m searching for the middle road that relies on “flow” rather than obsession.

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