Reader Question On Habit Building: To Push Through Or Rest?

By Jamie McSloy / September 17, 2017
habit building reader question

Reader Ari asked a question yesterday:

Hi Jamie,

Thanks for all the good content! You might remember me from a couple months ago asking how long a niches site takes to rank in Google.

That first niche site has made a grand total of $.25 so far. Quite a disappointment, but I learned from my mistakes, read *every single* niche site Saturday and created 3 new sites last month. And the last has one has already made $74.36 in less than a month! So thank you very much for all the helpful information. Without your valuable insights (and Easy Money from RPR) I wouldn’t have been able to do that!

I have one quick question (and the reason why I’m posting underneath this specific post): Would you recommend writing every single day or taking some rest days to recover (as writing at this stage is still pretty tough on the brain and my right index finger)? I have been writing almost without a pause and I feel I could use some days to recover but I also feel that I need ‘push through’ to make it a consistent daily thing in my life.

Thanks, Ari

Firstly, congratulations Ari on making progress on the niche sites!

(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.

Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)

As to Ari’s question; if you’re experiencing difficulties with writing regularly, should you push through or give yourself a break?

Let’s find out.

Habit Building: To Push Through Or Rest?

Generally, you want to push through. When it comes to writing, there’s a lot to be said for pushing through.

That said, Ari above says he’s having problems with his finger, and a lot of people can have health problems from writing. Let’s talk about that first, bearing in mind I’m not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice.

The Physical Demands Of Writing

Let me preface this whole thing by saying writing is not taxing on your body. In terms of jobs you could have, it’s pretty easy. You could be hauling lumber or working down a mine. Writing is a great job to have because you can sit and write however, whenever and wherever you feel like.


There are things you have to bear in mind. If you are writing at volume or for long periods, then certain things are going to pop up.

  • Hand pain
  • Hunched shoulders
  • Muscle imbalances from sitting
  • Eye strain
  • Potential headaches
  • Other joint/ligament/tendon stuff in your hands, arms and shoulders

You can cure most of these with a healthy life, adequate breaks and stretching/working the muscles and your body in general.

I say can but I mean must. Don’t assume because you’re not doing anything taxing that you aren’t taxing your body. You are, be healthy, don’t question it.

Now should you take a break from writing if you are experiencing physical pain or discomfort?


If, like Ari, you’re experiencing pain in your fingers and hands, then take a break. There’s no point in getting tendonitis, repetitive strain injury or anything like that. Stop doing what you’re doing until you feel better, and if you constantly have a nagging feeling, then decrease your workload and slowly work your way back up until you’re conditioned more.

Warning: There is a limit to how much you can write in a day – or days – and not feel some effects. If you have a big deadline and you write several thousand words in a day, you should probably take a day or two afterwards to let your hands recover.

That Doesn’t Mean Don’t Work

As a writer, there are things you can do to work when you’re not typing.

You can handwrite with a pen which is the same activity of writing but works your hand and muscles in a different ways. (So physically not the same action.)

Or, you can simply record sentences into your phone and transcribe them later. You can mind-map stuff and keep going when you’re not typing.

You can plan. Sometimes when I realise I’m addicted to browsing the internet, I’ll sit and handwrite/bullet point stuff for writing that’s nowhere near even a first draft. It might look like this:

Product X is [adjective] and can be useful for group 1, 2, and 3. (Work this out later.)

Here are the major benefits [X, Y, Z]

You can do this even on off-days and you’ll find you can work through ideas quickly because you’re not bogged down with getting it perfect. It’s also good for travelling, commuting and whatnot.

To Give Your Brain A Rest?

There are two types of mental fatigue.

  1. You are learning a new skill or putting the hours into building a new habit and trying to fight inertia.
  2. You have worked so hard your brain can’t take any more.

Ari asked whether to push through or not, and the answer depends on which you’re suffering from.

I’ll use two examples I’ve experienced recently and hope you can work out which one you’re suffering from:

  1. I have been trying to write up a page explaining my consulting/copywriting services for this site. This has gone on for about a month now, but I find myself drawn to doing other stuff whenever I spend more than ten minutes on it. This includes other work but also random YouTube videos.
  2. I learn languages for fun. I recently started learning a new one and the mixture of weird grammar and new vocabulary means after a couple of hours my brain starts jumbling the words together and I get them confused and it all becomes counterproductive.

In the case of one, your brain is fighting against inertia. You have to push through it.

In the second, you should give yourself a break. If you’re writing for a new site and trying to put multiple articles together on a daily basis, then you’ll get brain fog.

Actually, here’s a good way to decipher between the two states:

If you stop working and can immediately go and concentrate on something else, then you are probably suffering from ailment one – and you need to push through.

If you stop working, try something else and you’re equally rubbish at it, then you are probably suffering from ailment two and need to take a break.

I’d recommend downloading something like a chess app on your phone. If you can play chess fine but can’t concentrate on your work, then you need to push through.

If you can’t beat an easy level of your chess game and you make stupid errors, then it’s time for a break.

Final Thoughts And Setting Habits

Setting a new habit will always be tough because we’re fighting against everything that’s brought us to this point in time.

However, you need to push through it.

Don’t do this at the expense of your physical health (unless you’re working out for the first time in order to be healthier.)

Aside from the physical component there’s the mental component. The litmus test for this is to work out whether you’re experiencing actual fatigue or whether you’re fighting the aforementioned inertia.

Generally, you’ll want to push until you can’t concentrate. If you can’t concentrate on anything or switching focus doesn’t work because your brain is foggy, then take the rest of the day off… you’ve worked yourself to fatigue.

If you can concentrate on other stuff (of the same mental intensity) then you’re just bored or fighting your natural inclination to not work on stuff you’re not enjoying. Push through it.