Maarten, this doesn’t make sense if you don’t believe in work-life balance.
I can only speak for myself, but I think the problem I have is not that I work too much or don’t have things I enjoy “just because,” it’s that society tells me I “must” have some outlet or useless hobby and spend X hours on it each week or something bad happens. That’s not true. The only time I need to watch a movie is when I feel like it. The only time I need to get dinner with a friend is when I feel like it.
I’m a writer. As such, nothing is useless. Everything is productive. Because there is only my life. What I say is always a result of the whole thing, not parts of it. But the truth is this is always the case, no matter what your work is.
I think taking something you enjoy, like writing, and turning it into a performance art is actually smart. It’s the ultimate hack to keep enjoying the thing you’re doing long-term. Yeah, some days will suck, yeah, some days you’ll spend too much time looking at the numbers, but, ultimately, you’re turning it into a process in which getting better is part of playing. This “getting better” part is huge for happiness/purpose/meaning.
Sure, you could just write essays privately forever, but chances are you wouldn’t because there’s no bigger reward attached to it. No connection with others. Each essay is only as valuable as how much you enjoy writing it in the moment. So even if you only wanted to write privately whenever you felt like it, there’s a high chance you’d soon be driven to publish them, because hey, you like it, right? Others should see it, no? They’re too good. And then you publish and you realize, oh, they’re not that good. Well, at least I can keep working on them. And you’re back in the same game.
If you banish an activity into the pleasure corner, where it only serves your blowing off steam or feeling good, you’re suffocating your own potential. There’s nothing wrong with doing that once you’ve identified it’s not something you could ever be great at nor want to be. But if you do it in advance, you’re cutting yourself off at the knees. There’s no way you could’ve predicted you enjoy writing and would become so good at it. But if you’d tried to, you might never have arrived here.
Not sure if any of this helps or confuses but hey, you’re a philosopher. You’re not here for the answers, you’re here for the questions. ;)