Huh? What’s that, you ask? Brahmacharya is a term from yoga that refers to practicing “moderation in all things” as a means to keep focused on your true purpose in life. Simply put, it means that too much of anything is never a good thing. At first, we tend to think of this in terms of negative behaviors like overindulging in food, alcohol, sex or drugs. But Brahmacharya tells us that there is an equally negative effect from overindulging in activities that we think of as responsible behavior – like work.
How does this relate to writing? As writers, we often hear things said about our writing practice that sound very much like “rules.” You must write every day. You must write 1,000 words a day. You must write all the way to the end without stopping. You must this, you must that. We have to remember that writing is like everything else in life – too much is not necessarily a good thing. The risk is that we work too hard, or worry too much about whether we are working hard enough, or become too obsessed with getting it “right.” As a result, we can wind up stressed and exhausted. Worst of all, we may fall out of love with what we’ve been writing and throw it in the trash with disgust. Like too much yoga practice, too much writing, without Brahmacharya – balance, moderation – can leave the writer depleted and discouraged.
Yes, of course it’s important to write. And writing every day is a good practice to have. But it’s also important to rest, take a walk, read a book, see a movie, or even – gasp – do nothing. By practicing Brahmacharya, we are actually better able to stay focused on our true purpose in life, our writing.