Skip to contents

Post note: June 22, 2021

I was going to half-ass an NBA reference — ALL HAIL THE BRIGHT FUTURE HAWKS, TRAE YOUNG IS THE HEEL WE WERE PROMISED — for today’s post-note, but that was until I read Choire Sicha’s brief, fleeting Substack post that was published yesterday.

Not enough men talk about having burnout? Well, add me to the pile.

I know there’s been a huge movement of journalists and writers and famous-to-semi-famous people flowing into the independent newsletter world, largely in pursuit of greater autonomy, fortune, and liberation, and you know what? That’s a wonderful state of affairs. It’s a great, positive thing that a generation of writers now have more options and strategic flanks to improve their situations, no matter how temporary this specific composition of opportunity may end up being.

But as someone who’s been an independent newsletter operator for almost seven years, I also know that, for at least some, this option alone will eventually not be enough. Running a business by yourself, one that’s built around you, can become such a grind, such a tightrope, such a deafening demand on every inch of your identity that it can become so painful and overwhelming and torturous, especially if you don’t have a particularly strong relationship with yourself. (As I don’t, not always.) I am very much among those who are burnt out and perpetually exhausted, endlessly anxious in both personal and professional contexts.

To be sure, I’ve been here before. These feelings have come and gone in cycles for as long as I’ve been running this newsletter. But I’m currently smack dab in the middle of one of the longest bouts of burnout I’ve ever had, and I still can’t quite see the other side of this.

It remains to be whether I’ll change my situation or change the system, whether I’ll be able to wait this round out or just become an even worse person. (Probably that last thing.) But know that this is a very real thing that happens, and that it will happen to the Substack generation too.