Vicious Cycles: A Short Essay on Willful Self-Sabotage

Maybe you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks. Maybe you don’t actually care. Either way, I made a goal at the start of the year to write at least one blog post every week, to finally get back into the swing of things and start creating consistently again. Obviously, that didn’t happen. And it’s completely my fault.

This year started off well enough. I was blogging pretty consistently. I was doing pretty well mentally. I thought maybe I’d begun to shake some stuff and get back into the creative lane I’d been riding in 2017. I was exercising every day. I had the will power and the energy to tell myself what I needed to do and get it done. But that didn’t last. It started with staying up a little later to finish a post or get a few more words down. It ended with a garbage fire.

Somewhere along the way, I got tired. Physically, emotionally, mentally. It became easier and easier to watch YouTube instead of pounding out another blog post, easier to scroll through Instagram instead of working on a new book. As my energy levels flagged, I began to take the path of least resistance, the path that didn’t require thought or careful word choice or energy besides the minuscule amount required to thumb through my Twitter feed. It became easier to keep the lights on late rather than lie in bed and wrestle with insomnia. It became easier to say that I’d do it tomorrow, when I was less tired, and easier to wake up even tireder than I’d been the day before. It was easier to not try to fix it or do anything about it. It was easier to promise big things later, and sabotage myself now.

I came to with a shovel in my hands and dirt piled high behind me. I was digging myself into a rut, further and further in, further and further down. Consciously. Knowingly. Willfully. I knew (and I know) exactly how to dig myself out of that hole, but by this point it had become a vicious cycle, and it was easier to keep on digging myself deeper into that rut than to try and clamber out. I had already dug a grave for my creativity. It was easier to bury it than to try for resurrection.

But I know what I need to do, and I think maybe I can do it. It sounds easy; just put the phone down and turn off the lights and rest, but somehow it’s really, really hard. It’s hard to make things. Its hard to want to make things when you’re so tired you can hardly keep your eyes open. It’s hard to want to go to bed when it’s become so much easier to just not. But I think maybe it’s better to struggle against the cycle than to live your life with a need to make things and no ability to do so.

Vicious Cycles


My head hurts. It always hurts. I’m stressed out and sick and sick of worrying. But they just want more. Always more. Always demanding new content. I am pressured to throw more and more into the grinding internet machine, to keep tossing in more work, more content, more words on more pages, more tweets, more Facebook posts, more and more. I haven’t been tossing in anything recently, because I’m out of stuff to toss. Every idea comes with its own set of flags: what will people think about this? What will they say? Will they throw hate at me, or laugh at me, or refuse to take me seriously? Is this trendy? Is it searchable? SEO optimized? Will it bring me the clicks?

And I’m out of stuff that fills that ever growing list of criteria. I’m out. Done. Finished. The internet has run me into the ground. My head hurts, and all I can feel is the burnout.

Okay. Sob story over. Real talk.

Creating content takes time. And work. And more time. And stress and more stress. We, the Internet, myself included in some cases, just want more. We don’t see what happens behind the scenes, how fast the burnout hits you in the brain, how fast you can become sick and tired of the rat race. It is a constant battle to keep afloat, to get content and get that content out there, to get people to notice, and to care. And I’m losing that battle.

I love to write. Don’t get me wrong. I love a nice writing session when I can just sit down and write my heart out for an hour or so and get my story on the page. This is not that kind of writing. This is publicity, PR, clicks, follows, whatever. I used to enjoy writing stuff for my blog, back when I had ideas and I wasn’t scared of clicking that ‘publish’ button. Back when the burnout hadn’t filled my brain and dragged me down. After that initial wave of enjoyment passed, I began writing for the search trends and the SEO; aggressively publishing that 30 day drawing challenge that happened back in September. At first, it was fun. At first, I was seeing those clicks and visitors and stats I wanted to see. I felt good. And then it just dropped off. And I got the burnout in my brain and I was sick and tired of doing those stupid drawings every day, but I kept going because I thought maybe those stats would come back if I just kept on trying.

They didn’t.

Of course they didn’t. By that time, people were tired of me, probably, tired of all my amateur drawings filling up their inboxes or feeds every day. I tried to feed the internet machine, but it wasn’t hungry for that anymore. It must have something new.

New. New. New. That is the cry of the internet machine. That is the cry of the burnout as it eats your brain and all your ideas, and tires you out before you even sit down at the computer to write. I tried feeding the internet machine, and it didn’t work. So I stopped. And that didn’t work either, because unless you’ve got a team of people churning out more and more every day, you’re doomed.

Social media hasn’t consumed my time. What’s consumed my time is worrying about that social media. ‘Your 58 followers haven’t heard from you in a while,’ proclaims a notification on my Facebook feed, ‘Write a new post!’ But I have nothing to say. And the internet machine goes on asking and asking for something new, but I don’t have anything to give. I am losing the battle. I can’t stop worrying that I’m not optimizing my time or my social media accounts for those elusive ‘best results’; more followers, more likes, more people who will (maybe???) buy my book. And the internet machine keeps on eating and eating and eating, and I keep worrying and worrying.

And I’m stuck.

Again. Always. Stuck in that awful place, stuck in the burnout, with no more ideas to give.