In the last year or so I spent as a customer support person whose main job was done in the browser, we had an extension we used that caught all spelling and grammar mistakes in everything we typed. It also did a word count.
The first week in use I got an email with my weekly wrap up. Over eighteen thousand words.
A few more weeks, and I went from 18 to 20 K a week, depending. More if there was an emergency. It counted any text I inserted via shortcuts – pat answers I could send in a few key strokes – but it also didn’t count anything else I did on my laptop outside my browser, like Slack discussions, so I figured it evened out over time.
Curious me got to thinking about how many words in a novel and how much I was writing.
A quick Google just now reminds me that 80-90k is a good novel length (mass market fiction) so it doesn’t take hard math to realize I was writing half a novel a month or so. Or, a 300 page book in a year.
No wonder I stopped blogging; I was out of words.
A lot of my mental energy went to my job. No disrespect for the company or people therein, it’s just the nature of intense customer service jobs like that. I read one time that the average length of time someone lasts in that position is 3 to 5 years. I did it officially for 6.
Oh, I knew I was burnt out. I just wasn’t fully aware of how much. Apparently it’s not normal to just crash every 2 or 3 weeks and sleep most of the weekend if you can.
I keep tabs on some friends from my old circles, of course. I see some struggle and I want to sit them down, grab their arm, yell where needed. Stop, just stop. It’s not worth it.
Once I got my feet under me and thought I was rested everything I had put on hold for 3, 5, ten years came at me. Like a car crash in slow motion, someone mentioned.
I actively avoided my laptop for months. I rearranged my work desk, disassembling my setup. I switched to paper for most new work tasks – easy when my customers were not techie people. Almost everything can be done from an iPad.
I slept most of the summer. I learned how to nap. I made a bucket list of things to do for my upcoming 50th birthday, wild things, things completely inappropriate for a grandmother.
If not now, when, though?
Every so often I’d get back to my laptop. Things would physically hurt. I’d change chairs, find a new setup. All the old pains from carpal tunnel, tech neck, sitting for hours on end, would come back in sometimes less than 20 minutes. I even had a mouth guard to stop grinding my teeth.
One day I was driving myself into town, to the mall or something – not an errand or a have to or yet another appointment. I was humming. It felt.. odd. I had to think about what I was feeling (also a new thing).
I was… happy?
It had been a while.