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I Gave Up Drinking For Lent and Here’s What Happened

A few months ago, I caught a whim to give up drinking for Lent. I had never given anything up for Lent before, but I was ridiculously hungover (again) from not drinking all that excessively (my liver is old). And it was Ash Wednesday. I had long felt that I drank just a little too much and used alcohol as a crutch (“the cure for introversion,” I’d call it), but my drinking was one of a long list of self-improvement issues that I thought I’d get around to eventually. That Ash Wednesday, it became clear that I could do something about my drinking, and I gave it up cold turkey for the six weeks through Good Friday.

With this spur-of-the-moment decision, I unexpectedly changed my life.

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Why Are You Doing This?

Maybe you create because you feel misunderstood. Maybe you got into it to impress the object of your affection. Maybe you do it to spite your parents. Maybe you’re trying to scratch an itch of discontentment that won’t go away. Maybe art is a receptacle for your anxiety. Maybe you think your ideas are better than other people’s. Maybe you’re it this for fame, or money, or accolades. Maybe you use art to build yourself a soapbox. Maybe you’re bored.

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There’s something inside of us that’s afraid of boredom. The second we feel boredom, we either try to kill it, by pulling out our phones, checking Facebook, or reading the news; or numb it, by watching TV or drinking alcohol. We turn to something else to distract us from the emptiness of downtime. Boredom whispers that others’ lives are more exciting, that we’re not that special, that we’re just human, that we’re mortal.

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Painting With One Color

I like to write songs that are sad. I’m great at wistful, bittersweet, hurt. For a long time that was how generally how I felt in life. I got into a groove of writing songs that reflected my inner melancholy. I know the formula: a repetitive piano riff over moving chords, a pleading chorus, a few punch-you-in-the-gut lines. Sadness is my “zone.” But I’m generally not a sad person, at least not anymore. I have…

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Do You Have To Be Tortured To Make Good Art?

Where does inspiration come from? It’s a classic artist conundrum: to be content and uninspired, or unhappy with lots of material. We’re attached to the archetype of the brilliant tortured artist (Kurt Cobain, Elliott Smith) or the musician who only writes songs about breakups (Lily Allen, Taylor Swift).

Given that my favorites are dark, tortured souls (Fiona Apple, The National), I’ve often felt like I had to make a choice in my personal development: to pursue happiness, or to pursue art. But not both.

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