Johnny Blackpencil Part IV: A Day Off – By @danieljburkitt

By Dan Burkitt


Johnny Blackpencil Part IV: A Day Off


Two weeks until the big deadline. No problem. I’m breezy. I’m in full flow. My ideas are locked in. I’m six hatting, sticky testing, pushcrafting. I’m getting there. That pencil will be on my shelf.


In fact, I feel like I can afford to let my hair down a little bit. So, I did – I took the day off today. I slept until 10:15am, then I had a bath, then I made poached eggs on wholemeal toast, then I went to the Saatchi Gallery, then I met an old friend for lunch, then I went for a run, then I wrote a one act play before dinner, then I made a nice slow roast lamb shank with sautéed potatoes, then I re-read Helmut Krone, then before I knew it was 10:45 and I was tucked up in bed. It was a pretty lazy day, but I was taking it easy.


I know you’re shocked. And I know what you’re thinking. Surely Johnny wouldn’t be wasting his precious time like that? Surely Johnny would be squeezing the most out of every last second before the deadline? Surely Johnny would be doing everything in his considerable power to nail his brief?


Come on guys, be sensible. Marc said we need to take breaks and I agree. He said, we need to avoid burnout. It’s so true. More wise words from our wise dean. I find myself agreeing with Marc even more in these hectic, stressful times. His words caress my ears, they’re comforting, almost maternal, yet strangely erotic, hauntingly beautiful. I want his words marked on my skin. I want his town hall speeches tattooed on my chest.


Avoiding burnout is easy, trust me. I’m doing it brilliantly at the moment. You just need to take breaks. Tea-breaks, weekend-mini-breaks, admire-your-own-reflection-in-the-mirror-breaks. Whatever works best for you. Personally, I like all three.  And I’m good at them. I can take breaks anytime, anywhere. 


I am the master of chilling. I’ll chill the absolute shit out of myself if I need to. I’ll be like a sloth. A giant sloth. Except I’m not extinct, I’m very much alive. Alive and seriously, seriously relaxed.


I can recharge my batteries in seconds. It’s like Vikki said, you only need five minutes. Shut your eyes and let the silence wash over you. Feel yourself slip out of consciousness. Feel the thoughts whirring in your mind slowly reach a calming, serene stillness. Feel your mind power down. Feel the harsh reality of the physical world lose all meaning. Feel yourself disconnect from it and enter another realm, somewhere soft and warm, nestled between reality and fiction, somewhere between this world and the next. Honestly, it’s so easy guys. It just takes five minutes.


That’s what I do. It’s not that hard to balance your work and your life, your ambitions and your mental health. Just take breaks. Go to your local pool. That’s what I like to do. I swim a 400m medley. We can race if you fancy it, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about blowing off steam, not winning. But we can make it about winning if you want.


Or I like to go to the Lake District. I take the train up there. I just bring a tent and a notebook. I get a cabbie to drop me off in the most isolated spot. It’s just me and my thoughts. There’s no better company. I go for long walks and contemplate the true meaning of life. I write poetry. I breathe in the clean, country air, and I think yes, this is what I need. This is the fuel I need to go back and smash the next brief even harder. Or sometimes I go to Ibiza. You have to find out what works for you.


But, look, I’m not trying to tell you what to do. I just hope me sharing some of my tips was helpful. Stay healthy out there guys – mind, body, and soul. All three of mine are in great condition and it really helps me get my best work out.




The copy scores 85.3 in the Flesch Reading Ease test

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