handwritten title box: Taking A Break

drawing of calendars and text: as of this month, I've been creating something for semi-rad.com every single thursday for 10 1/2 years

drawing of 550 yellow boxes and text: that's 550 weeks.

drawing of thought balloons and text: it is of course, almost always challenging and fun

handwritten text: for about the past year and a half as we've been collectively going through, you know, *gestures at everything*, I think I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to try to make The Exact Right Thing every week. (not that it could save the world or anything, but maybe help a little bit)

venn diagram and handwritten text: that pressure is in addition to the never-let-myself-skip-a-week rule that has led me to joke sometimes that I'm self-employed, which means my boss is an asshole

email inbox icon and handwritten text: so every week is different but also kind of the same. on saturday or sunday, I start thinking about/worrying about what I'm going to make/write/draw for the next Thursday. It's kind of like receiving an important email over the weekend, reading it, and marking it unread while you take a few days to think about how you should respond.

handwritten text: sometimes, if it's a good week, I come up with an idea over the weekend (often times during a long trail run) and I can write down a few notes and relax a little bit. Sometimes, I have no idea what I'm going to do until Tuesday morning, or tuesday afternoon, or sometimes even Wednesday. You can probably imagine that the longer it takes me to come up with a decent idea, the less fun my week is.

line graph and handwritten text: the past few months, it's more and more often taken me until Tuesday or Wednesday. Which produces a lot of cortisol, if you know what I mean.

 

handwritten text: It also leads me to telling myself all sorts of rational and irrational stuff: "maybe I just don't have anything else to say" "maybe I should just give up and get a real job" "Maybe I'm too worried about what people think and that's causing a sort of creative paralysis" "Maybe I just need a new desk lamp" "maybe I'm not drinking enough coffee" "Maybe I'm drinking too much coffee" "I'm not sure that many people would miss it if I just stopped" "Maybe I should google 'symptoms of burnout'"

handwritten text: I left my last "real job" in 2011 and since then, I haven't taken a vacation. I have done all sorts of fun stuff and traveled to plenty of places, but every trip and fun thing has been at least partly an effort to create some sort of content—a story, a film, some photos, drawings, etc. And the whole time, I kept making the weekly stuff for my website and for instagram, in addition to other projects I was working on at the time. (fun fact: I drew almost all the illustrations for my book "bears don't care about your problems" while on airplanes)

handwritten text: for a decade now, I have operated on the belief that if I don't create and share a certain number of things every week, I'm slacking off. but recently, I have been starting to wonder if that commitment to a schedule is actually leading me to make lower-quality, less-effective pieces of work that seem more disposable to the people who engage with them.

handwritten text: and then last week, I listened to Debbie Millman interview organizational psychologist Adam Grant on "Design Matters." near the end, Grant said this: "Who said you have to do a certain quantity of work in order to be excellent in a given day. You made that up. It's something that too many of us got attached to, probably too young, and then we really internalized it. 'I am a hard worker.' As opposed to, 'I am someone who strives for excellence.'"

photo of brendan and handwritten text: so I'm going to take a few weeks off to recharge, or reset, or whatever it is people do on vacation, and hopefully I'll be back before you know it. (if you're a patreon supporter [thank you!] I'm pausing Patreon charges for the month)

 

—Brendan

Tags from the story
,
0 replies on “Taking A Break”