If you’re remotely involved in the arts circles on Twitter, you probably (A) saw and read the Polygon article on Crunch or (like me) (B) saw everyone talking about how bad working yourself to sickness is and were confused why this was being discussed but agreed.
Eventually, I did find the Polygon article and read it. And I 100% see why everyone one is denouncing it – as they should! But I also absolutely understand and agree with the writer in a lot of ways.
He describes crunch as the time when a team works ridiculous hours 7 days a week to get. shit. done. For me, crunch is grinding 10-12 hrs a day on writing, house chores, freelancing (attempts), homework, volunteer projects, whatever else I can come up with.
Crunch is an addiction. Working for the sake of working, blocking out the rest of the shit in your life and throwing all of your being into working on something. Even if there is no reward, even if you end up pissed and “why did I do that” in the end, you can’t and don’t worry about that in the middle of it. Crunch is something I have turned to when the world is just too fucking much and I don’t want to deal with anyone.
My writing doesn’t get better. My homework isn’t improved. Nothing is better with Crunch. If anything, things are worse when I come out of this kind of grind and it just makes me want to go back into it.
I wonder how much of this is based around my bipolar depression or if it’s centered on my perfection/control issues and my personal valuation of self-worth = productivity.
I am worth something only if I am productive and accomplished.
It’s a shitty fucking attitude to have and one I’m desperately trying to unlearn. But it’s that exact attitude that had me doing insane amounts of shit for 2 weeks before a con and losing my shit at friends once I got to the con. Friends who helped me go to the con in the first place. And it soured some of the weekend for me and I looked like a jackass.
Look, I get the appeal of crunch, especially as a 20-something living in an era where working insane hours for minimal pay is expected. I’m trying to develop a writing career and have seen more than my fair share of unpaid internships in cities like NYC or Chicago that have a high cost of living. It’s expected. I feel expected by the industry (not people) to be grateful for the opportunity to work at all for a great company for no compensation while having to figure out how to fund my life (rent, food, etc).
There’s more to dig into that later as a mentally ill spoonie who’s dealing with essentially a disability at the moment. Lots of layers of expected input, etc.
My point is this: even as a person with a shitty attitude about my self-worth linked to my production, I can recognize that Crunch and getting wrapped up in Crunch is an addiction. Something to mask my feelings of depression or inadequacy or fear with. Working yourself to sickness (or permanent injury or worse) is just plain not worth it.
It shouldn’t be so damn radical to take care of yourself and then your work.