“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” — Ellie Wiesel
To commit to loving something is to commit to sometimes hating it. It’s easy to love your daily writing routine when you’re feeling motivated and inspired and just as easy to hate it when you’re tired, busy at work, or crushed by the burdens of life.
For writers, the question isn’t: “How do I stay committed when I’m in love with my work?”
The question is: “How do I stay committed when I temporarily hate it?”
Temporary is the key word there. If you’re indifferent about a piece of writing or it feels like busy work to you, stop working on it. And if you permanently hate writing, don’t write. Cut the masochism and do something else.
When I hate writing, it’s because I love it so much. An experienced writer is somebody who knows when the hatred is temporary.
The week I spent putting finishing touches on Peter Thiel’s Religion was one of the most grueling weeks of my career. I cared so much about that piece. It drove me nuts — every word, every sentence, every anecdote. At times, the flames of frustration burned so brightly that I wondered why I even tried to write it in the first place.
Because I needed to write it. That’s why.
Nobody had really connected the dots between Thiel’s faith and his business philosophy, and I felt called to do it. I loved and hated writing that piece, but I was never indifferent about it.
It taught me a lesson too. The difference between a “writer” and “somebody who writes” is the difference between showing up on a schedule and only showing up when you’re inspired. If you insist on always loving the craft, you’ll quit in the face of turmoil.
Greatness isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Great musicians practice their scales even when their fingers are calloused. Great writers get their daily words in even when it means waking up at 5 am to get some alone time before the kids wake up. Great bodybuilders push through their final set even when their muscles are screaming and their veins are about to explode.
To be disciplined is to resist your short-term emotional whims in service of your long-term goals. Let everlasting love triumph over the temptress of temporary hate.
Cover photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash