Have you ever heard of the term “power creep”? Perhaps you’ve heard it in the form of “mission creep”? Regardless, the “creep” here is a term that denotes a growing tendency to be obsessed with the word suffixed to it. “Power creep” means to grow more and more powerful without regard for excess. Mission creep is planning to only do a few missions, then planning to do more outside of the few that they planned.
You’ve probably encountered sleep creep at one point or another: planning to doze for fifteen minutes, and then justify yourself into sleeping for another thirty. You end up sleeping, gaming, eating, or drinking more than you thought you would because of creep. It can reach up to some really high levels before you get too tired to do any more.
Here’s the main thing with creep (which can be either a big problem or a big help): once it gets started, if you don’t restrain it, it’ll grow to the point of laser-focused obsession. If you’re the kind of person who needs to motivate themselves to write everyday, and you get a bad case of writing creep, I wouldn’t necessarily call that a bad thing.
However, if you have someone who already has a habit of writing four hours a day, a case of writing creep could seriously damage their life: if not controlled, they might start devoting less time to their job. They might start spending less time with those whom they love. They might devolve into a miserly, friendless, little pile of scraps who lives under a bridge and writes twelve hours a day, only stopping to beg bread.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. But don’t underestimate the influence that creep of any kind (heck, it was crocheting for me once) can have on a human mind. You’d be surprised on how you used to think of other things in your spare time, but now you can only think of writing. You spend your waking hours lying in bed until two AM, thinking about names, or plot twists or some such idea.
“But isn’t that great?” You might say. “Don’t I want to be manufacturing more content? Isn’t it good that I’m writing more?” Well, the answer is yes…if you’re a computer. Trust me, there’s more to life than writing (Maria, I feel faint! Fetch me the smelling salts…) and you should partake in it. Being laser-focused (on anything) is detrimental to your health.
Some people talk with envy about the guy “whose life only revolves around two things: beer and construction”. I don’t envy such a man. Life’s too big to only have two major interests. I, for one, am many times guilty of this: I tend to be laser-focused at times and am somewhat of a black-and-white absolutist. I prefer my truths certain and unquestionable.
Above all things, even a steady writing regimen, I would recommend the amazing quality of self-discipline. If you can master the control of oneself, you dictate how much you write, how long you play video games, how long you sleep and when you wake up, who you date and who you marry, and so on. Being able to control writing creep is one sliver of what self-discipline is.
If you find yourself being too invested in writing, take a break. Don’t quit, just remind yourself that there are other interesting and fulfilling things in life. Keep this at the forefront of your mind, always. If you find yourself becoming disillusioned with writing, inspire yourself and increase the amount of hours worked.
Remember: there exists such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. Interest in good things in admirable, but obsession is always to be avoided.
Good luck, and happy writing!
Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!