Creative burnouts often occur when we work too hard and can happen to the best of us. We often want to be recognized so much that we spend all our free time creating art and promoting it - without leaving any time for ourselves. Have you experienced creative burnout in the past? How have you dealt with it?
I have to admit - I have experienced burnout a couple times in the past year - when writing for Artpromotivate. Balancing family life, a blog (and now a second blog!), an art career and several other things is very difficult, and I often push myself beyond my limits.
But, sometimes I have had to just get away from it all. Returning, I’ve felt rejuvenated and re-energized. I’ve also learned some preventative measures to avoid burnout in the first place. With how hard I push myself, I realize that burnouts will still happen occasionally. There are certain things I do to make sure they do not last long though.
Find the cause of creative burnout and deal with it
Burn out can be caused by a number of things. Figure out the root cause of it, so you can deal with it head on. Are you over-worked? Do you push yourself too hard? Step back, and take some time to access your situation. Below are some other causes and ways of dealing with creative burnout.
Take some time off
Sometimes all we need for rejuvenation is a little time away. If you are working too hard, creating and promoting art becomes more of a chore, when it should be enjoyable. Take a day to visit a museum… or even consider doing something completely unrelated to art to clear your mind.
Here are a few ideas: Take a road trip, go camping, take a hike, watch a movie, go to a concert, have a night out, etc.
Get advice from other artists
Other artists (especially those who have went through a creative burnout) will understand your problem more than anyone else. Confide in artist friends you can trust, to give encouragement and advice. Don’t be ashamed to admit your problem. Artists by their nature tend to push themselves too hard, and periods of artist block and creative burnout are very common among artists.
Keep your focus on creating art and not making money
Saying this, I do not mean to forget about making money. We all need money to survive and support our families. But if all we think about when we create art is whether it will sell, this will certainly put us under too much pressure – and the art will become stale and commercialized.
Creating art just for money often leads to disappointment in ourselves. The creative flame eventually burns out, replaced with dollar signs.
Consider creating art and making money from art as two entirely separate entities.
Avoid stagnation in your art
Always be open to trying new things, experimenting with new mediums and using different techniques. If we produce the same art day after day, without expanding our creativity, our creativity eventually stagnates.
Take a look at this post: 20 Creative Ideas for Art Inspiration
Too much structure for managing time or not enough
Some artists work much better with structure for managing time. They like to plan out their days in increments, with amounts of time allotted for specific tasks. Then, there are others who work much better with less structure. Most of the time, this disposition is a part of our nature. Working against it to become more structured, when this only causes stress, can lead to creative burnout.
Find some strategies for managing time in this post: Time Management Tips for Artists
Keeping a healthy body and mind will go a long way in preventing and dealing with creative burnout if it arises. Exercise regularly, eat healthy and get plenty of sleep. Take care of yourself first, and keep art as secondary. Also get out and socialize occasionally. Take care of your body and mind so that those creative juices will begin flowing again.
Stop being too self-critical
When we hit a creative roadblock, we often become very hard on ourselves. We are not living up to our own expectations, and self-disappointment may set in. Realize that burnout is a natural reaction when we are working too hard or not having balance in our lives. Everyone has limitations. Instead of being self-critical, learn from the experience and work on ways of preventing and dealing with creative burnout.
Think back to your first year as an artist
These probably were exciting times. I remember my first year of painting. After drawing for years, I finally had the confidence to learn painting. Actually, with my first canvas painting, everything just came naturally. From the outset, I really enjoyed mixing colors and creating depth and movement on a canvas. Making money from my art did not enter my mind back then. I like to think back to those days, and recapture some of that spark.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Creative burnouts often last anywhere from a day to weeks depending on how hard you have pushed yourself.
Always have the thought in the back of your mind that you will get through this – because you will!
Have you experienced creative burnout? How did you deal with it?
Also read this related post: How to Overcome Artist Block