How hard to push oneself? As a writer who largely sets my own schedule, I ponder this often, with no consistent result. Asking "how important is it?" offers only limited guidance for self-assigned tasks and timetables.
A more subtle criterion is, on which side do you tend to err? Writers who stress the need for external accountability and a regular writing schedule, I suspect, are trying to offset a tendency to creative disorder. Since I tend to self-discipline, my creativity benefits when I attend to the mood of the moment and allow a certain amount of free flow.
I wonder if this relates to recent research about rigidity and chaos in neural networks. A sparse pattern of connections between brain cells goes with rigidity, literalism, left-brain involvement, and difficulty reading facial expressions. A chaotic overabundance of neural connections is associated with figurative language, right-brain involvement, and reading too much into other people’s faces: They’re watching me; they’re judging me.
Asperger’s syndrome lies at one extreme, paranoid psychosis at the other. Ideally we avoid the extremes and integrate these tendencies flexibly to fit the occasion. That can be easier said than done.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.