Burnout Blues

Best-selling Sci-Fi author Octavia Butler’s notebook.


As I write this, the new moon in Aries is ushering in, marking it a new astrological year. 

I have such a keen interest in the way we perceive time. I love the way different groups of people start the new year so differently—the Lunar calendar, the Islamic calendar, the Gregorian calendar. We all have the same measurements of moments, yet splice it differently in accordance to the way we think, feel and believe. It’s a sobering reminder that beginnings can occur at any time, any place! It’s all up to you to decide. 

That being said, I’m a bit of a hypocrite on that sentiment currently. For the past week, I’ve been putting off writing a play. I keep making excuses for myself—I have writer’s block, I have a full-time job and I’m tired, I can’t think of anything to write. Beginning, in spite of my surroundings, has been difficult lately. 

There is a quote by Sidney Lumet that has haunted me recently each time I open up an empty piece of paper on my laptop screen. “Creative work is very hard,” he wrote in Making Movies, “and some sort of self-deception is necessary in order to start.” 

Writing, lately, has been this cycle of deception and defeat. I try to start, put on music that moves me, open the page, only to scrunch it up into a ball in my mind’s eye. I have come to realise lately that creation is a very deliberate act. I believe that as people we are innately creative, that it is a humanistic trait. 

But to create art, you must choose to do it. It is an effort action. A kick in the sand. A scribble on the wall. You must begin, somewhere—a word, a phrase, a letter, a note, a petulant stroke on your canvas. To conjure up something out of nothing, is such a bold and big choice to do, and I hope that you give yourself grace to start your projects—whatever they might be. The words may not make sense, the shapes lopsided and the notes are the wrong chords, but you started! And maybe that’s all that really matters. 

There are a lot of things that may hinder your creative process, whatever that might be. But I hope that spark comes back. That it reignites the human in you, and that you allow yourself to start. All good things, as Octavia Butler writes, must begin—to birth something into existence is much more meaningful than to allow something to simply shrivel and die out. It’s hard. But you can do it. I know you can. 

With love, 


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