Creative Burnout

Ife Duduyemi

Scarier than Ghouls, Ghosts, and Goblins

How many of us have a favorite artist, and we constantly cannot wait for them to release music? Or a director we anticipate creating another film? Or buying tickets for a comedian’s tour? Creativity is a talent adorned by many, but very few are aware of the hard work required to produce a hit single, publish a book, or create an online course. Creatives go through bursts of inspirations to push out astounding pieces of work. However, how many creatives talk about the blues coming off a stroke of genius? Or the anxiety behind awaiting the next bright idea? The pressures and expectations to perform to the same level or possibly better? Many of these experiences can reflect creative burnout, and it can be terrifying. 

A few signs of creative burnout include: 

  1. Extended fatigue, racing heartbeat, and sweaty palms at the idea of creating again 
  2. Brain fog or a mental block interrupting the creative process 
  3. Feeling on edge or irritable 
  4. Fear of producing anything less than perfection 
  5. Emotionally sensitive or defensive when it comes to critique
  6. Isolation from friends and family, causing relational strain 
  7. Complete apathy towards your creative passions 

Creative burnout is the exhaustion and lack of desire to create. This can be felt after extended periods, weeks, months even, of pouring into a project. Some creatives feel overlooked or unappreciated for the hours upon hours poured into a project to not receive the recognition they so would have appreciated. Creative burnout can also be felt by creatives who somehow did not generate the outcomes they would have liked to see from their work. Finally, creative burnout can be felt by creatives who have so many tasks and responsibilities on their plate that they have neglected their personal well-being, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally, or spiritually.  

Art and creativity bring people together like no other. It invites people into your world. It validates others that they too are not alone in the human experience. It would be such as shame to have talents and passions that bring you joy become sources of despair. The task of a creative is not an easy one, but it frees themselves and others. Therefore, we must support our creatives because their mental health matters as well.

To remedy creative burnout, check out these techniques below:

Changing your pace and environment ~ Have you been cooped up in the music studio for hours on end? Take a walk in nature. Change your scenery and take in the trees, the creatures, the difference in air pressure—incorporate deep breathing. Let your mind rest and reset. 

Be compassionate with yourself and the process ~ Let creativity come to you. Being hyper-focused on a task will add to the pressure and not allow for new ideas or creativity. Have you ever tried to remember something so intensely, and it never came until you stopped thinking about it, for it to later pop right into your head?! Similarly, often you need a mental break. Shift gears to a different task so that creativity will naturally find its way back to you when the time is right. Just be patient and companionate. 

Be present. Know that your piece of art, music, and any form of creativity does not have to be perfect but uniquely your best ~ Often, the pressure we put on ourselves creates a mental beast that fights against us. Perfectionism is that beast. It tells you that if you cannot guarantee perfection, it’s not worth it—which is absolutely not the case. Be gentle with yourself and know that your best is enough. More importantly, YOU are enough. Check out these affirmations for perfectionists. 

Welcome wise counsel ~ Seek an advisor or trusted colleague to give you critique and ideas on which direction to go. You just might be surprised by the level of support you have and to know people are rooting for you.

Talk it out ~ Maybe you cannot figure this out alone. Maybe there is an underlying cause that is leading to creative burnout. Seek out a therapist to explore what is going on with your creative burnout and how to overcome it. 

If this blog post resonates with you as a creative, share it with your community of fellow creatives. If you are looking to support a creative you know, be aware of the signs discussed about creative burnout. Create a safe and supportive environment to foster a conversation about taking a step back to take care of themselves or seek help. While we honor and celebrate creatives during the highs, let us too rally around them in times of need when they may feel low. 

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