That Feeling of Relief

So, the feeling of relief…it is pretty amazing, right? Take the following examples:

  • Sitting down with a gaming controller after a long day.
  • Taking off shin guards after a soccer game.
  • An ice-cold drink of water after mowing the lawn on a 100+ degree day.
  • Pulling a foot out of one of those tight ski boots after a long day on the slope (this could also be replaced with a too-tight bicycle cleat after a long ride).
  • That first plate from your favorite buffet after a day of fasting in eager anticipation.

imageI could go on, but hopefully you see where I’m going with this. As I thought about what I wanted to write for this post, I couldn’t help but consider my own current mindset. You see, I just finished Ragesong: Alliance, and that beautiful ‘I can finally sit back for a minute’ feeling hit. It was a huge relief.

With my current schedule, I am usually able to churn out one or two books a year. It isn’t a lot, I know. I learned a long time ago that failure to prioritize can lead to some pretty hairy situations, however, and it is always worth avoiding those. In the example of my writing, I found a schedule that works for me…more or less.

So, here I sit, excited for tonight. After the kids go to bed, I can relax and unwind in the best way possible. That’s right! I’m talking about video
games (where did your mind go, people??). There is nothing better than sitting down for a nice binge session on video games when you feel you completely deserve it. Alliance is in the hands of my editor and I get to dust my hands off and wait until it comes back.

Here’s the thing. For the past several months I have been struggling to stay on target with Alliance. I would find things to occupy my time that kept me from writing in the evenings. Stupid things, like: video games, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, etc… In short, I was finding it extremely difficult to stay focused. The downside (and upside) was that I had readers hitting me up to know what was going to happen next. In all sincerity, I love it when this happens because it shows that a reader is invested and they care. It is extremely motivating. So, like any good procrastinator, I grounded myself. I would not allow myself to enjoy in any late night gaming sessions until after I finished.

Oh boy, it was grueling at times! The only use my poor ps4 received for the last several months was when I would watch a movie with my kids. It was tough, but since I wanted to play, I was able to focus more and I was able to finish the book. I will say, that I can’t remember enjoying a gaming session quite as much as the one I had the night I sent Alliance to my editor. It was SO great!

At first, I simply enjoyed the night for what it was. Kids in bed, the wife NES_controllerwatching T.V. in the other room and me, sitting on the couch with a controller in hand watching the opening cut scenes for MGS5. Now, as I sit back and consider that euphoric feeling, I realize it wasn’t just the gaming. It was the fact that I could sit down and play without a shred of guilt because I had accomplished something I was proud of. I knew that in that moment, there was nothing more I could do for my book, and I really felt I had earned that time.

Upon coming to that conclusion, I tried to think about what I can do to experience it again. Because, honestly, there is nothing quite as good as a guilt-free evening of doing something you love without the nagging feeling that you should be doing something else. So, my question to myself was, ‘what can I do to experience it again?’ The answer of course comes by way of lists. Why? Because…lists.

  1. Set worthwhile goals – Half of the reason I enjoyed the reward as much as I did was because I felt like I had accomplished something truly worthwhile.
  2. Set reasonable expectations – I was already through with a good portion of the book. I knew that my goal obtainable. I was not setting myself up for failure by trying to do too much.
  3. Find what works – Withholding something enjoyable not only gave me motivation, but I also found that I enjoyed it all the more after taking time away. ‘Absence doth make the heart grow fonder.’ There’s a lot of truth to that.
  4. Enjoy the reward – Give yourself time to enjoy the fruits. Don’t rush on to the next project so fast that you can’t sit back and take joy in what you have done.

In life, we do a lot of things in life that aren’t easy. I found that occasionally those tasks can become more manageable when we are properly motivated. Not to mention, the end result can make a fun experience even more incredible. I’d love to keep writing…but I’ve got games to catch up on before the PlayStation Holiday rush hits. So, until next time, folks!


J.R. Simmons
– Author of the Ragesong Saga

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10 thoughts on “That Feeling of Relief

  1. Great motivational post. It is so hard to stay on track and with a routine. You have changed my mind about how I organize my day, week, month, and year.
    Hmmmm….
    I must: Get writing done first, then, and only then, go get groceries, go to the post office, go shopping, play games, talk to family, read, or go out with friends!
    Yes, I’m going to try to save the good stuff and the routine stuff until after I write something.
    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hmmm…I seem to be sensing a touch of sarcasm here. I definitely do not encourage neglecting necessity in favor of writing. I suggest only that we identify the extras that keeps us from accomplishing that which we truly desire. At that time we are able to see what can be done about postponing or weeding out those items that we seem unimportant. For me, it was social media and other time-killing amusements. In small doses they took up very little time, but putting them all together was very different.
      For each, it may be something different. Only we can identify what those distractions are, what can be sacrificed without damaging ourselves or our families, and whether or not we are willing to give those things up to reach our goals.

      1. No sarcasm at all.
        Just an honest assessment about how everything, both the chores and the fun, always end up coming before writing. Need a solution, so thanks for the tips. How do you have the willpower to make it work?

  2. I agree, JR. I love reading, and I enjoy working my way through old tv seasons (currently X Files). I curb both until I’ve gotten a significant amount of writing done each day. Like you said, it’s a great motivator and I get tons accomplished. However, that relentless schedule can also be a dog’s life without a significant break. I usually release books in the spring and take the summer off (for the most part) and enjoy my kids and the outdoors. Then I’m ready to hit it hard again in the fall.

    (I can’t wait to read this new book. I love Ragesong!)

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I’m glad you have a way to reward yourself. I know for me, when I start a game, I have a hard time putting it down…a bit of that addictive personality. You’ve been doing awesome with your writing, so you have obviously figured something out that works.

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