Creative burnout. We all have experienced it, and no matter how passionate or happy you are with your career and creative craft, it can happen anytime.
When these burnout moments and creative ruts happen, it can feel demoralizing and hopeless. You lose the inspiration behind why you create in the first place, and may even question your passion, motivation, and the direction of your career.
But it happens to everyone, though it may not feel so in the moment. Here are four helpful tips that can help you avoid creative burnouts, so you can continue to stay inspired and excited about your craft and create the best work possible.
1. Take breaks throughout your day
This might sound like the opposite advice you want to give to an ultra-creative and motivated person, and while it might sound easy, taking breaks can be the hardest for people who feel stuck. There’s a tendency to fight through the creative rut or mental block you are in, when in reality, that only makes things worse.
So take an hour and work out, or do something alternative to sitting and staring at a computer screen, or doing the same task for hours.
Still don’t believe that breaks actually improve your productivity and creativity? Check out this study by Stanford University, which confirms that simply walking on a treadmill or walking outside for 20 to 30 minutes stimulates your brain and allows for stronger creative function.
There’s proof that taking breaks everyday doesn’t make you a bad worker or uncreative — on the contrary. In fact, taking breaks makes you sharper, more productive, and most importantly, more creative.
2. Take a personal intermission
I don’t think I’m going to have to pull your arm on this next tip. Sometimes, taking a longer personal break can really be beneficial to combating creative burnout. No matter how passionate or motivated you are by your creative craft, there will be moments where you feel uninspired or unexcited. That’s a completely normal experience, and it can happen often, especially if a creative craft is your full time job.
When those moments come and you begin to feel the burnout coming, schedule time for time away from your craft. It doesn’t have to be a month-long break. It could be a single day or weekend time-out to do things you’ve always wanted to do. Whatever that is, take time for yourself to reset, without the need to create while you’re there.
If you take time for yourself, away from your creative craft, two things can happen:
First, you start to truly appreciate that craft again and not take it for granted. As human beings, repetition or constant exposure to something exciting, amazing, or beautiful can lead to that “something” becoming more mundane or normalized. That goes for anything, whether it’s an activity, job, or creative craft, and we either get stuck in a creative rut or we search for something else. Taking time away from that craft can make you fully appreciate it again and make you motivated to dive back in, headfirst.
Two, you can come back from that hiatus with more creativity and a broader, more diverse way of thinking about the world and your craft. Don’t be surprised if those experiences lead to better appreciation, heightened awareness and clarity, greater creativity, and a more broad, diverse way of thinking. That will go a long way in keeping you passionate, inspired, and far away from a creative burnout.
3. Constantly challenge yourself
No matter what type of person you are, there is one thing that is true about your passions: if you are passionate about something, you have to find ways to continuously challenge yourself and grow in that passion, or you will get bored or frustrated, fast.
Let’s talk about the root of energy and passion: dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter or messenger in the brain that is associated with adrenaline or a heightened sense of energy, motivation, and excitement — where passion stems from.
We tend to associate dopamine with thrill seekers who push the limits to the max, and are always looking to challenge themselves, to take their passion to the next level. However, the same goes for your creative craft.
Yes, photography and videography are not exactly base jumping, but challenge has to be there for both to continue to be passionate. If a base jumper sticks to the same height or area, they will become uninspired. If a photographer sticks with the same type of photography, and doesn’t expand, grow, or challenge themselves creatively, they will become uninspired as well, and that’s when creative burnout takes place.
It’s important to always challenge yourself as a creative, learn different styles or crafts, and grow in your creative passions and pursuits. That will lead to a renewed sense of energy, and always keep things fresh and exciting in your career.
4. Connect with other creatives in your field
Finally, the last tip to avoiding creative burnout is connecting or networking with other creatives in your field.
For many creatives, seeking connection and networking can be difficult, because many of us are self-driven and self-taught, and often operate on individualism and isolation. However, that mentality can greatly hinder someone from learning with others in their field, which can strengthen and grow their own craft and career.
Community in any career or craft only does good, and helps fuel motivation to be better and grow. In this time of social distancing, it’s more important than ever to find connection — so follow our tips on how to stay creatively connected, while apart.
It’s important to seek out and develop relationships with like-minded, talented, trustworthy people — people who directly or indirectly motivate you to be better and whom you draw inspiration and energy from, so you avoid falling into a creative rut.
It may be foreign or difficult for some, but connecting and networking with other creatives in your field will only strengthen your career and craft and make you better. It’s nice to have community along the way that helps you stay away from burning out and keeps you motivated.