There are several lifetimes of native Japanese material out there for you to enjoy, regardless of what level you are. Taking into account your Japanese level, your interests, your age, your background, your likes/dislikes, you should be able to find a never-ending supply to keep you occupied. So you do what everyone does when you need material. You start searching, you listen to recommendations, and then you start sampling a few minutes or a few pages of everything that catches your eye.
But you can’t find anything that you like. The 5-minute rule (of giving up new material 5 minutes after trying it out) has turned up all negatives. You don’t like anything. You’re stuck.
I’ve been there more than once. It took me a while to figure out what went wrong. I would be in a situation where no variety show would interest me, or every anime I tried was dull and uninspiring, and every sample I tried of a new book had me quickly trying yet another new one. The more I searched, the more frustrated I got.
“Why can’t I just find some material that I can enjoy for the next several hours or days or weeks,” I thought to myself. I just need something. Anything. Nothing sounds good. Am I done enjoying Japanese material? Do I not like it anymore?
Then a day (or several) days later, everything was back to normal. I was finding new material again no problem, and enjoying it. I was immediately able to absorb myself and have fun again. It’s like whatever was blocking me before had completely disappeared. After experiencing this multiple times it made me come to a simple conclusion:
Sometimes right now is a bad time to search for something new.
It could be stress. It could be fatigue. It could be you need a break. But at this moment, no matter what you search for won’t be appealing. Even your favorite shows or long running series you’ve been following may seem lacking any excitement. The more you try to find something new you want to engage in right now, the less enjoyable everything becomes.
If you keep searching while in this mode, you slowly start eliminating everything you might have liked if you had searched at a regular time. For example, you go through an entire sampling of the new season of J-drama while tired, and find absolutely nothing. You may have convinced yourself in this bad moment that there is no J-drama you want to watch this season.
A few days later, even when you have the energy, and you may have found stuff you would enjoy, you’ve unconsciously told yourself that you’ve already tried those series. You don’t like them, so there is no point in spending an extra second of thought on them.
It’s simple. If you find yourself being interested in no new material no matter how hard you try, including stuff you normally find yourself enjoying, temporarily stop your search. Take a break, and do something else. Or go to sleep (as this phenomenon often happens at night). Or come back later when you are in a better mindset.
If it’s too late, and you’ve already eliminated a lot of possible material you might have actually enjoyed, then give them another sampling when you are in a more optimal situation, because you may actually like them.
This in no way means that every time you find something you don’t like, it means you need to try again later. But if you find no matter what you read or watch now just isn’t generating even a spark of interest, continue that search later.
Have you ever been stuck in a “nothing interests me” moment? How long did it last? Did it eventually go away?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.