Head work is hard work

​Swing. Smash. Swing. Smash. Swing. Smash.

No matter how hard I hit the wall, it won’t fall. I’m tired and frustrated and angry. So I swing harder. Eventually, it crumbles under my blows.

Type. Delete. Type. Delete. Delete. Pull out a notebook. Scribble something. Scribble it out. Sigh. Type. 

I can feel what I want to say, but I can’t capture it. I’m tired and frustrated and angry. So I get angry at myself for feeling angry and frustrated.

There are two types of hard work. The first involves the body. The second involves the mind. And the former is easier.

Think about it. If I’m trying to take a wall down and it’s taking far longer than planned, I’m going to be frustrated. But because the hard work is physical, I have an avenue through which I can release my frustration. I can swing harder or work faster.

But if the hard work is intellectual, I can’t do that. Say I’m grappling with a section of book. I can’t find the right flow and tone of voice and it’s taking way longer than anticipated. Unlike physical work, I don’t have a way to release my frustration. I can’t pound the keyboard. So I’m forced to sit with this building frustration and find a way to deal with it. Which is hard work. And I’m not very good at it.

When the hard work is physical, you have only one option. Dig in. Grit your teeth. Persevere. But when the hard work is mental, you have many options. You could endure and persist. Or you can quit. Or procrastinate. Or start the whole thing again. Or write it off entirely. 

Head work is hard work