I’m a Writer—Here’s Why I’ve Taken a Six-Month Break From Writing


The Writer’s Rub

It’s been about half a year since my last real essay or post. I took almost the entire summer and autumn off from writing full-length essays, response posts, and even shorter thought pieces. It feels—and maybe seems—that the only things I’ve been writing this summer have been tweets and LinkedIn posts.

This might seem odd for a writer—after all, writers are supposed to write consistently and be able to produce high-level content with each topic they cover. But here’s the rub; writers are also human. We hit walls, experience burnout, and need breaks like everyone else—especially those who are motivated to produce content at break-neck speed.

And damn was I burned out.

Where Startups and Writing Diverge

In startups and tech development, there’s the notion of “ship early and often.” It doesn’t matter if the first version has bugs (it will always have bugs) or if it’s a little unfocused; there’s time to fix all that junk later. The important thing is shipping, and your perfectionism is holding you back.

The same cannot (and in my opinion, should not) be said of writing. Yes, if you’re a writer or content producer you should employ every tool at your disposal to produce content at a consistent pace. But the “bugs” that exist in writing are a different breed than those of the “ship early, ship often” startup world; pieces aren’t supposed to go out sloppily written, half-focused, and “all over the place” as my mom would say. They’re supposed to be tight and bullet-proof, however you define that. In some ways, Alexis Ohanian addressed this issue in tech recently with his statements on “hustle porn.

Don’t Be Forgettable; Be Magnetic

To maintain this self-defined standard, sometimes the answer is that you simply can’t consistently produce at break-neck speed; sometimes you need a break to recharge and find new ideas and motivation. This is the frustrating, unsexy aspect of writing. It’s what happens behind your closed mental doors, and perhaps the thing that has the potential to make you feel like you’re “not a real writer.”

Stave off this thought and instead focus your energy on recharging. Come back to the writing when you have something real to say. People can always tell when you’re writing just for the sake of filling a quota.

Spoiler alert: that kind of writing is boring and ultimately forgettable. Don’t be forgettable; be magnetic.

All of this is to say that it feels damn good to be back. 😎👍

Today Was Saturday, Wasn’t It?

This morning I woke up, showered, made some coffee, and sat down to work. Only I couldn’t focus.

I sat looking at my computer screen and reading some emails that had come in last night. I responded to a few, but couldn’t quite get “in the zone” to really like I was being productive. After a couple hours I started to wonder why that was.

As I took a break and went for a walk in the sunshine, it hit me: today was Saturday. I’d completely forgotten. So that’s it, I thought, I’m probably burned out from the week. And I was; it’s been a super long week.

On a day which most people take off, I’d woken up as I do every day: ready to work. Maybe it’s a hazard of being in the startup world, or maybe it’s that I love what I do so much that work doesn’t really feel like work (or at least, what “work” is supposed to feel like). Regardless, I work pretty much every day; there’s always something to get done. And most days I enjoy what I’m doing, so I tend to go without noticing the fact that I’m taxing my mental capacity (as any job does). I even find my mind whirring with new ideas as I try to sleep at night.

Yet what today highlighted for me is that it’s important to step back and let your brain breathe, even if you do love the work you do. The reality is that we can’t be on 100% of the time, and even if we try, the quality of our works suffers anyway.

I would love to say that in the future I’ll make sure to keep my work habits under control. Except it’ll probably be a lot more difficult than that. Even when I’m not “working,” I’m still emailing artists, setting up call times, looking for new music, working through new thought processes—this is just what I love to do. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Perhaps I could benefit from a break over the weekend, but the truth is, if I could be at a concert tonight, “working,” I would be.

It may not even be as extreme as that; maybe I just need a Netflix-binge tonight to purify the system. Then back to work tomorrow. It’s a good thing Family Guy and Friends all on for instant stream. Break well deserved.