How to Find Rest in Creating

If you are like me, working in a graphic design field, you probably encounter burnout regularly. It’s not because you don’t love what you do, it’s just that you are required to do it at least 40 hours a week. (Even more if you choose to do freelance on the side.) You start to feel artistically drained and everything you create loses that sincerity. Because of this over exhaustion, it causes you to get sick of your job, quit doing personal work, and to plateau creatively.

With all that being said, we as designers were created to plan, produce, and share our work. It’s in our blood and trying to suppress that feeling only makes us miserable. It’s like telling yourself that you don’t need to eat anymore; every second that goes by makes you numb to the pain. Eventually you’ll just starve to death. The worst part about this is that it happens all the time. Creatives starve themselves and give from an empty tank.

This is something that I’ve been struggling with in my own life. How do you refill that empty tank inside of you? The answer is actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. It all comes down to one thing, and that is to Create. This may come across as generic advice, but before you roll your eyes let me explain myself.

Design is like a Bonsai Tree. Though it has its basic needs, soil, water, and air, its form can be adapted in unique ways. The process, not the product, is where the joy comes from.

The best way to explain this is with my good old friend, the Bonsai Tree. Most people know that Bonsai are miniature trees that are shaped over time to create interesting and unusual forms. It is considered to be a very relaxing and a way to artistically express one’s self. What intrigues me the most about Bonsai is that it focuses more on enjoying the journey than it does on the final product. Especially, because it can take five years for a bonsai to fully grow.

Design is like a bonsai tree. Though it has its basic needs, soil, water, and air, its form can be adapted in unique ways. The process, not the product, is where the joy comes from. The key difference between the two is that we focus more on the product than we do on the actual journey there. This is where the real problem lies, which mentally bleeds over into our own personal work. As creatives, we need time to doodle, take photos, paint, illustrate, write, and design for ourselves. The way we truly rest is by setting aside time to create just for ourselves. A time where we can just relax and enjoy the process, and focus on the trimming and shaping the personal work in our lives. Once you start creatively giving back to yourself, you’ll see how much easier it is easy to give back to your job, clients, and even your family.

Summary:

  • Don’t give from an empty tank: take time to invest in yourself.
  • We need to create: starving yourself isn’t going to fix anything.
  • Focus more on enjoying the overall process than the end product.

I hope this post encourages you to take the next steps towards filling your creative tank. If you have any other helpful pieces of advice to add please feel free to comment.