Week 7: Melancholy, and Taking a Break

I’m in one of my Moods™. All my brain wants to do is scroll through Instagram looking at pictures of beautiful skinny perfect people wearing beautiful expensive perfect sneakers. On weekends, I can’t even summon up the motivation leave my blanket, let alone do normal functional adult things.

I’ve had to put in a Herculean effort to just sit down and type out this note. That’s why I’m publishing this on a Tuesday instead of a Sunday as usual.

This sense of listlessness and melancholy will pass in a few weeks, as it always does. In the meantime, getting any work done will be an uphill battle. There is nothing to do but take it easy for a while and wait for the feeling to pass.


Status of throat: please make it stop. I’m going to wait one more week to see if things improve, and then spend the first half of January visiting a few different doctors until I find someone who can figure out what’s wrong with me.


I’ve realized that the two keys to consistently doing creative work are to know when to take a break, and to know how to get back to your creative schedule after that break.

I find it easy to show up and put in the effort towards my music every day, but only for a few months at a time. Eventually there comes a time when I start to feel burnt out and empty—like right now—and then I fall off the wagon.

So the problem is not that I can’t show up and consistently write, but that I don’t understand when I’ve reached my limit and need to take some time off.

I spent a few hours this morning thinking about this problem and came up with some general guidelines for myself. I’m not going to share all of them here, but here are two significant ones:

  • I’ll take a break when the sense of anticipation and joy that comes from writing is replaced by a sense of dread and guilt. Or, I’ll take a break when I can’t make significant progress on a song for two consecutive weeks.
  • When I’m on a break, I’ll do something that takes my mind off music and writing. For example, binging a TV series, finishing a game, or just watching cat videos on YouTube. Anything to do with music—except casually listening to it—is strictly off the table.

Pretty obvious guidelines, but the most obvious things are often the ones that are the hardest to bear in mind as we go about our lives.


Reading: Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

Listening to: critically acclaimed albums from this year, including Wide Awake! by Parquet Courts, El Mar Querer by Rosalía, and A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships by The 1975. 2018 has been a disappointing year for music. I haven’t really discovered anything new this year that I still expect to be listening to five years from now.

Playing: nothing. I finished Diablo III a few days ago, and I now want a break from games for a few weeks.