4 Ways To Break Out Of Creative Burnout (That Aren’t What You Think)
Ah, creative burnout. It happens to everyone. You’re painting or singing or writing day in and day out, and it’s going well–until suddenly it isn’t. You become stressed and busy and exhausted, and suddenly it’s all you can do to pick up the paintbrush or microphone or pencil. I’ve been extremely creatively exhausted recently, and it is not a fun feeling. Burnout is a common problem among creatives, but luckily, it has a simple remedy. Let’s break down four ways to pull yourself out of creative burnout.
No, this isn’t what you always hear–many people will tell you to just push through it, that if you’re struggling to get work done, you’re certainly not going to get any work done by stopping altogether. But this is bad advice. If you’re exhausted and frustrated and struggling, just take a step back and walk away. Don’t quit forever; simply take a break. After a while (maybe an hour, maybe a day, maybe a week) come back, start over, and try again. You’ll be much better off, believe me.
Get a change of scenery.
The nature of my creative work (writing) is very solitary: I sit in my room and stare at my laptop for eight hours a day. So a month or so ago, when I was starting to get burned out, stressed, and exhausted, I knew I needed a change of scenery. My family happened to be going to the mountains for a long weekend, and I didn’t want to take a vacation–I wanted to keep working. But I turned off the Internet on my laptop, quit working for a few days, and came home feeling more creatively refreshed than I had in months–I actually had an entirely new novel idea fully formed and plotted.
Do your creative work first thing.
I used to tack my fiction writing on to the bottom of my to-do list, as an afterthought at the end of the day–but at 5 PM, I’m way too exhausted to write anything, especially something requiring a plot and character motivations and all of that complicated stuff. So now I’m aiming to write fiction for just 30 minutes each morning. I should still have plenty of time to get everything done, and my fiction will be much better because I’ll be awake and fresh.
Consume your creative work of choice.
I haven’t written fiction for the past couple of weeks–but I also haven’t read fiction for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been reading nonfiction. Which is great, but it doesn’t spur me on to feel motivated about storytelling. Because I’m a writer, I need to read. If you’re a musician, you need to listen to music. If you’re a dancer, you need to watch others dancing. And this becomes especially important when you’re burned out and need to be reminded why you do what you do.
Hey fellow creatives, do you struggle with periods of burnout? What’s your best advice for getting past it?