Being a productive person reminds me of the years I spent smoking. Growing the habit from stolen moments here and there to making excuses to run off whenever I could and light one up.
Do you smoke? Probably not. Good. Congratulations, even. You’re making a subtle difference in the overall health of the world!
Oh, you do?
Congratulations, you’re developing an understanding of a good artistic work ethic! Addiction!
Forget the chemical dependency aspect and think about that rising anxiety when you haven’t indulged in your particular habit in a while. Whether it’s smoking, pot, drinking, games, socializing with friends, serial-killing, whatever; the anxiety you feel that pushes you into it is the important impetus to productivity. A good work ethic is based around the addiction to doing good work. Or, if not good work, doing work you like.
I quit smoking almost four years ago. I bought a pack or two in that time but never followed up with a subsequent pack and the addiction never grabbed me. Hooray for me and my wallet. Terrible for my productivity. I used to smoke when I practiced playing the guitar, when I would write, after sex, with my morning coffee, when I was jamming with friends, during D&D games, when I was podcasting, and pretty much any other time I did something.
When I stopped smoking, I stopped doing a lot of things because it didn’t feel right. Writing was frustrating, music was frustrating, friends were frustrating. A lot of it was withdrawals, sure. But withdrawing from smoking meant withdrawing from creative enterprise too, because I’d linked them closely together.
The upswing was that anxiety I felt when I wanted to smoke made me want to create right along with it. Losing that made me forget what being productive was like. I still don’t know. Sorry. I can still produce work when I need to but I don’t feel compelled anymore.
Ok, kind of a lie. I do, when I’m out and about and I walk past someone lighting up a smoke, and I think, I could really use one of those.
Four years and I still think about buying a pack of smokes every week.