Creative Energy & Burnout—why it happens, what it feels like, how you can prevent it
Creative Burnout is A Real Thing
It Will Probably Happen to You.
Creative burnout is an unfortunate and very real part of doing a Creative Job. If you do something creative for work, you'll probably experience it at some point!
Let me explain how it works...
A Well of Creative Energy
Your creative energy is in a "well" inside of you. It can store a lot of water (or creative juices) but if you take a lot, without replenishing it, it will eventually run out, leaving you burnt out!
What Creative Burnout Looks Like
It's a lack of motivation. A very icky feeling. It's different for everyone, but for me it feels very much like depression. There's just no energy for the usual creative endeavors.
How I Burned Myself Out Badly
For the first year of being a full time artist, all I did was work. I had an almost obsessive focus on my portrait art.
I created about 2,000 portraits in 6-7 months, and then sputtered out.
I wasn't getting out enough, or seeing people. (When an Introvert like me says that, it's usually a red flag!) — (...I mean I got almost no social interaction. )
There was no variety or novelty in my life besides the Art I was creating. I didn't really give myself many breaks, or time to think about things. I denied myself many opportunities to refill my well of energy.
I didn't know any better, so I kept working, making the burnout worse.
You Need to Refill Your Creative Energy
The well of creative energy inside you refills slowly by itself, but your lifestyle can invigorate you and refill it. Here are some ideas for filling it back up, and keeping it topped off.
Do Things Differently
Doing things differently adds novelty to your life, which is proven to increase creativity. It's inspiring, and invigorating to walk a different path every day.
Try making your ham sandwich differently every day for a week! Not just with different ingredients, but why not mix up the steps?
Take regular breaks
Take breaks every hour, or Meditate a few times a day. These breaks will make you feel healthy, and energized, while also letting your mind wander around, and potentially finding creative insight—The spark of creativity!
Learn new things constantly
I like to always be learning new things. This will refill your energies, and make you skilled in a wider variety of things.
I'm learning to sew, and I may stitch that to my main Art by making sculptural cloth busts, and painting them. It's exciting to think about at least.
It refills my creative energy too =)
Do Something Mindless
Clean. Sort papers. Doodle effortlessly. Activities like these, which require a little bit of thought, allow your mind to wander—Particularly the right side. You are giving it time to roam free, and think about things differently.
Be Silly or Strange
Relating to the last item, this one is about being extremely different. Break your own, boring rules. Be very silly. Be crazy. Do something very out of the ordinary, and you may just find yourself inspired again!
Imagine strange things regularly
Remember, novelty is amazing. Ok?
Imagine when you're eating a sandwich, that it's really a house. You're a giant!!! The villagers flee across the table and slide down ropes, to the floor. WHERE YOU CAN STEP ON THEM!!!!!!
Or imagine what it would be like if your home were filled with red and purple polka dotted sharks...That swim on the ceiling!!!
Happiness flushes away creative burnout.
Being happy also makes you more creative.
Just Take A Break. Seriously.
Taking a break from your normal creative work is a great way to cure creative burnout. Do something exciting, or relaxing.
Use the time to figure out ways you can avoid future burnout, and make sure you have fun!!
The Moral(s) Of This Story
We Creative people need to be cared for. If we abuse ourselves, we're not much use to anyone. When we care for ourselves, we reach our creative peaks!