I need a break

brandelune profile image Jean-Christophe Helary ・2 min read

On November 11 I started a hand written blog on Github to document what I would be learning on my journey to becoming yet another "front end" whatever (there should be an acronym for that... Yafew?)

At first I wrote every single html page by hand, careful to separate structure and aspect. I wrote a general css and eventually a css for each page. Then I wrote a small script to create an index for the css files. Then I started to write a script in emacs lisp to automate the html output of my daily files because hand-coding the links to the previous and next day, and the daily css and all the rest was terribly error-prone. Then I realized that I had not accounted for the fact that the day before 12/01 is not 12/00 and I rewrote the thing. And it broke. And I could not find the reason why. And I rewrote it and it did not work but I dived into emacs lisp and it was fun.

Until I realized I was doing less and less freeCodeCamp and more and more emacs lisp, which is not a bad thing in itself, but not what I had planned. And I had a few pending issues with life in general, work, family, tax reports, etc.

Last week I started a post where the title was "I need a break". I did not write anything past the title. Today I posted the few files that remained.

My first thirty days of learning have come to a halt. Abruptly.

It is not that I'm overwhelmed by the learning, more like I'm just too tired trying to do a ton of things at the same time. I can't set my priorities right, maybe because I'm too eager to stop being where I'm at today. But it does not seem to work like this. If I want to move on, I really need to get my act together and resume learning, even if it's just 5 minutes a day.

I've been in "tech" (whatever that means) since I was a teenager. It started with a zx81, basic and assembler, then a bit of prolog and pascal on Amstrad CPC machines in uni. Then military service on an IBM clone running Windows 3.1 where I was doing data base work, then Mac where I started doing web sites, in 96. Then linux before utf-8 where I had an environment for Japanese and one for French. Then OSX, and Applescript, and emacs, and lisp and plenty of fiddling here and there. And now, close to 20 years as a translator and a desire to go back to my roots where computer stuff was fun.

Ok, it did not work. But I did progress a bit. And the stop is only temporary. Or at least that's what I tell myself. I do this all the time, and the stops can be short or pretty long (a few years). I don't want to stop this time. But I feel like I'm in a pretty dark hole at the moment and I can't find the ladder out.


Posted on by:

brandelune profile

Jean-Christophe Helary


In Japan since '97. Translating and localizing on Mac since 2000. FOSS advocate and user. Super proud that I have some code that's been accepted in Emacs :^)


markdown guide

Coding burnout is real. Admitting you need a break is an amazing first step. Writing code is a mentally demanding activity - step back once in a while, recharge and be refreshed for the next challenge!


It feels more like life burnout here :-)


The reasons and routes to recovery are similar!


I've been there too! One of the most important things you can do right now is to find something you enjoy doing. Play with it, without setting any goals.

For me, I actually adore coding, but I often need the freedom to code what I want, how I want, when I want, without anyone to hold me accountable to some commitment. I wrote the Cranky Developer's Manifesto for that exact reason...

Of course, it doesn't have to be coding. It can be anything! Art, writing, music, running, building something out of LEGOs, whatever! Find something you love, and just do it for sheer fun.


Thank you Jason :) You're right.

It's the holiday season so I'm going to play with the kids and have lots of fun. I've resumed kendo practice 2 weeks ago and even though it's hard, it's also something that I love to do. I'll just fiddle with the machine during the holidays and will get back to learning in January.