The empty page sits before you, blank yet another day.
You have an exhibition coming up in a few months, and are wondering how you’ll ever complete your pieces in time.
You’re in a brainstorming session and, yet again, feel as though you have nothing to contribute.
Creative burnout happens to all of us. Whether it’s your full-time job, a side hobby, or something in between, if you depend on your creativity to help you through, it will, at one time or another, seem to fail you.
We creative types never want to talk about burnout, though. It makes us feel as though we can’t keep up, that maybe we’re on the wrong path, after all.
If we do decide to share our struggles with a friend, and our dilemma is met with “I don’t know what that’s like. I have more ideas than I know what to do with!”, we feel even worse than if we’d said nothing at all.
The truth, though is this: we ALL suffer creative burnout once in a while.
Whether you’re an artist, a writer, a marketer, a sculptor, or an entrepreneur, your success has nothing to do with whether you suffer burnout, it has to do with how you handle the burnout once it rears it’s ugly head.
Reigniting the Flame
Very successful people, it turns out, are really not much different than the rest of us. They have the same doubts, and wade through the same struggles.
How they approach their conflicts, though, is what allows them to emerge stronger and less battle-scared than the rest of us.
Here’s what they do differently, and how we can accomplish the same in our own lives.
They find the gift
Feeling helpless in the midst of creative burnout is frustrating, and leads us to believe we’re powerless over the outcome.
Successful people, on the other hand, see their struggles, including burnout, as opportunities for growth. They realize that while they can’t change what they’re experiencing, they absolutely can decide how they will respond to it.
Positive action leads us to believe we have some control over our reaction to a situation. We’re in the drivers seat, and our actions going forward can and will make a difference.
This doesn’t have to include a multi-layered, ten-step action plan. Simply acknowledging your situation, and realizing we do have control over our next steps, whatever they may be, can be extremely powerful and heartening.
They search for the “why”
Understanding the root cause of your creative burnout can go a long way towards brainstorming possible solutions.
Are you working too hard, without taking the time for breaks? Have you been engaging with the same artistic medium for too long? Are you tired of your subject matter?
There may be one solitary reason for your burnout, or there could be several. Leaning in and identifying them is a necessary step successful people do almost automatically.
In my own life, I’ve recently been experiencing burnout relating to blogging. After some time reflecting upon my blogging lethargy, I realized part of the problem is I’ve been blogging for a decade, about the same 2–3 topics.
Knowing this, I’m much better able to formulate an action plan to move forward.
They brainstorm solutions
Once you understand the causes behind your creative burnout, you can begin to figure out ways to manage it.
Maybe you need a short break from your work, and the best plan of attack is switching projects for a few days. Maybe a step back from all work for a little while is the best way forward. An outdoor excursion or weekend trip may be just what you need to reset your creativity.
Possibly the best solution is to pivot, and dip your toe into another topic or medium, maybe even one you’ve been hesitant to focus on. For example, if you’re a painter and oil paints are your medium, pull out the watercolors for a day and see where it leads you.
Successful people feel as though they’re in control of their own destinies. They may be creatively burnt out at the moment, but they know that with intention, it’ll only be a temporary setback.
They do it for the process
When creativity is your job, it can be hard to remember a time when you were creative just for fun.
Successful creatives know that being on 100% of the time is a recipe for disaster. They know in the midst of burnout, some no-strings-attached creativity may be just what they need.
Consider picking up a once-beloved instrument, sculpting with modeling clay, dancing, or completing a couple of pages in a journal or sketchpad. The point is to step back from your creative have-tos, and do something just for the fun of it.
The point isn’t to become proficient at whatever you’re trying, but to take your mind off your burnout, and maybe even rekindle your passion for your craft.
Perspective makes all the difference. No matter your creative field, we all suffer burnout occasionally.
Shifting our perspective, and leaning into the experience is a necessary step towards regaining our passion and equilibrium.
Take a page from the playbook of successful people, and watch your burnout recede and your creativity soar once again.