The perils of being too productive

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world for material to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about the risk of being too productive…

Is it possible that you are too productive? 

I know I sometimes risk falling into that category. I work hard, and I LOVE my work. But I’m also enormously self-critical and sometimes I don’t know when to dial back my efforts.

I discovered the concept of what’s called “toxic productivity” in a recent post by the writer Elizabeth Spann Craig. Like me, she identifies herself as a Type A, get-it-done kind of person. I laughed aloud when I read her description of her viewing and reading habits:

“Now I try and do better about refilling my well,” she writes, “although I am fairly single-minded even in my relaxation. To make the most of my time, I have watch-lists and TBR (to-be-read) lists so I can quickly hop right into something that I think I might enjoy.”

I do the same thing, but I wonder if sometimes it would be better if I could just relax and let fate or kismet deliver the next book or streaming show to me.

In any case, if you think there’s any chance you might be too productive read the post. And be sure to scroll through the comments as well. I found the remarks by psychotherapist Jan Morrison to be particularly interesting. She wrote:

“Drivers are ways we’ve adapted usually as children to be OK with our parents or teachers or other important adults. The Drivers are Try Hard, Be Perfect, Hurry Up, Be Strong and Be Pleasing. And yes you can have more than one in your arsenal! The thing about them…is that they cannot be fulfilled.

“There is no way to know if you’ve tried hard enough, pleased enough, been perfect enough and so forth. You can implement your drivers when you know about them on purpose – no worries – but when you hold a belief that you are only as good as your accomplishments or activity – well, that is problematic. As I say to my clients – you will not be kicked off the planet for simply being.”

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