What about days off? Should you take days off from practicing? Should you take days off from being a creative person? I can’t tell you what to do but here are two ways to frame the idea of “days off”.
One way to take a day off is to just not do the work. We all have plenty of other stuff to do in our lives so it’s easy to make a nice long to-do list that we may comfortably rationalize as more important. So important, in fact, that we don’t have time to practice. But that could be any day, couldn’t it? If you’re not practicing, you’re doing something else. And if you prioritize that something else, then there’s no time for practice. Days like these usually come after a period of frustration with practice. Either we aren’t making enough progress, or we can’t decide what to practice, or we’re bored of practicing, or practicing is just a generally painful experience. So we make excuses, telling ourselves a story about how busy we are and then by the end of the day there’s no time left for practicing.
Another way to take a day off is to say “I’m going to take a day off today.” And then you go about your life. What’s the difference between this and just not doing the work? This kind of day off is doing the work. A serious musician does whatever they have to do to keep doing the work. Sometimes that means a day without practicing. Or a week. But you have to choose it. You have to admit to yourself that you’re stressed out from practicing and that things aren’t going how you’d like them to go. You have to admit that you’re letting the pain of your ego tell you stories about what kind of musician you are. And that’s normal, that’s what we all do all the time. But don’t pretend that’s not what’s happening. You can’t avoid pain all the time.
If you never take a day off from practicing you might end up hating the work. And if you never choose to take a day off from the work then I guarantee you’re not taking a day off from feeling all the guilt and shame associated with your practicing.