Posted in Blog

Stress and Productivity

I started grad school last week, and as much as I claimed for years that I would never attend, I don’t regret my decision at all. I’ll skip the raving about my classmates (who are great and who I’ve gone to drinks with twice now, chatting excitedly about our favorite shows over tasty amber ales), and how cool it to attend class by walking past Gotham’s costume department (it’s so cool), and move straight into the fact that I’m so happy to be stressed out again.

Let me explain. There are two types of stress, as far as I’m concerned. There’s “I’m totally overwhelmed with boring, practical, life things and I just need a break” stress, and then there’s “I’m totally overwhelmed by work and exciting projects and I can’t wait not have time to sleep because I’m too busy doing what I love” stress. Obviously, I like the second one. The first one is usually just an inconvenience to the second type.

I know people for whom these two types of stress aren’t mutually exclusive, and who prefer to focus on one thing at a time for a longer period of time. I also know people who completely shut down at the first sign of stress, even exciting, good-things-are-happening stress. I am not one of these people. I thrive on stress. I eat stress for breakfast after a night of tossing and turning from that very same stress. And I freaking love it.

I love having to get up early or stay up late working on stuff, often switching back and forth between three different projects. I love racing against a deadline, beating it by days or weeks, then using the extra time to do even more. I love writing a zombie webseries at the same time as I’m revising an epistolary YA novel at the same time as I’m brainstorming ideas for a noir-style TV show with three different time periods as jumping off points. I love going a bit too far with an extended joke idea and realizing I actually really dig the initially ridiculous concept. I love manically typing in a french cafe with a devoured crepe to one side and an empty iced latte cup to the other, eyes darting around as I search for words.

This is all very stressful- I haven’t slept much recently, which is a bit difficult when my full time barista job is entered into the equation, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know for a fact that I’m going to be a bit of a workaholic for the rest of my life, but unlike all those romantic comedy protagonists who have to learn to chill out, I’m perfectly ok with this personality trait. I’m not a workaholic because I’m trying to get a promotion, or because the best TV writer on the planet, or make a bunch of money, or win a Nobel prize or anything. I’m a workaholic because I love writing, so much so that not writing makes my hands twitch with disuse and my brain restless with ideas. Why WOULDN’T I spend hours upon hours doing something that I absolutely love doing?

Although my first summer in New York City was fine, all I was really doing was working at the coffee shop, watching Netflix, and reading Game of Thrones. There was a bit of writing here and there, but I didn’t have a trajectory for that writing, because it was just me. Then Kelly and I started a joint project, which got the juices flowing again, and then school started, which just pushed me back into hyperdrive.  Now I’m deep into five different projects, each with their own deadlines and parameters and I’m so psyched that not sleeping much is fine because it just means I get to think about my projects more. Yeah, balancing all these different projects is stressful, because I want to do a good job on all of them, but that stress just makes me work harder, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Even though my screenwriting knowledge is minimal, I am now 200000% sure that this is the industry for me. The quick turnover rate, the endless possibilities, the collaboration with equally motivated and excited people, all of it. I may not want to live in NYC forever, but for now, its fast-paced lifestyle is exactly what I need to keep me going.

Anyways. I best get back to writing. I’m on a roll and only have 37% battery left before I have to leave the cafe and head back to my apartment, which is where productivity goes to die.

What's up, my dudes?