How to Beat Creative Burnout

Qube shares the best ways to tackle creative burnout.

If you’re a creative, it’s likely that at some point you’ve hit a wall in your creativity for no rhyme or reason. You may procrastinate more, feel exhausted by the thought of work, experience inexplicable stress and struggle to do the most basic work. You might start doubting your abilities and get caught up in comparing yourself to others in your field. If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, there’s a chance you’re experiencing creative burnout.

The conflict between creativity and a society that praises the workaholic mentality has been a growing cause of creative burnout in our modern world. Like our moods, creativity comes in ebbs and flows and manifests as a reflection of our mental state. The added pressures of deadlines, routines and expectations that come with working in creative industries inevitably clash with our creative flow. This results in periods of unproductivity, causing us to feel overwhelmed and as though our creative output is out of our control.

Creative burnout can often feel like a dead end. So, here are small tips to get your creative juices flowing:

Be kinder to yourself

The stress you put on yourself is one of the biggest culprits that leads to creative burnout. Creatives are more prone to perfectionism which can be more harmful than helpful. Of course, silencing the inner critic is easier said than done, but try being kinder to yourself and your work. Practise positive affirmations and find contentment in the journey of your art rather than the outcome. If it’s not working for you one day, that’s okay. Creative burnout is never permanent.

Reduce your consumption of other creators’ content

The inner critic thrives off of comparing yourself to others. In the age of social media where artists promote their successes everywhere we turn, self-comparisons are inevitable. Although it’s important to take inspiration from the work of others, it can be toxic when you find yourself struggling with your own creative output. Remember that success is relative. Every artist has their own journey with struggles along the way. Switch off, make a note of your personal achievements and refrain from comparing them to others.

Remember your purpose

During the creative process, it’s easy to lose touch with the reason you started doing it in the first place, especially when money is in the equation. Think back to where you started. What got you into what you do? Was it purely for financial gain or because you wanted to follow your passion? Write down a list of reasons why you’re passionate about what you do and rediscover your purpose.

Prioritise your sleep

Setting a healthy sleep schedule is imperative to creating a healthy relationship with your work. Sleep helps aid your memory, making sense of your thoughts and allowing you to think more clearly. So those nights when you’re up into the early hours slaving away at an idea may actually be counterproductive to the quality of your work. If you find yourself entering a creative rut, try getting a good night’s sleep and return to the idea in the morning with a clear head.

Go back to basics

It’s easy to get lost in the never-ending potential of an artistic idea. Not knowing where to start, where to end and how to execute your ideas can be overwhelming. When this happens, take a step back and break the idea down to its most basic form. Work from there on a step-by-step basis and see what this can lead to.

Take scheduled breaks to do something separate from your work

It can be a struggle to find a work-life balance when working in creative industries. Creativity tends to not follow a fixed routine and our social lives are often centred around our creative pursuits. Schedule in time to do something completely separate from your craft. This may be as simple as taking a walk or going on a run, watching some mindless television or taking time to meditate. Whatever it may be, make time for it, and your creativity will follow.

Indulge in art completely different from your style or taste

A lack of inspiration is a primary cause of feeling unmotivated. Churning out the same old thing can be stifling for your creative imagination. Try listening to music you don’t typically enjoy, visit an art gallery or watch a film that may not be to your taste. There’s a chance you’ll open up a new realm of creative possibilities you’d never have thought of before.

Work with others

Working in creative jobs can be isolating at times. You may feel as though nobody else understands your creative vision and you can easily get caught up in feeling like you can do it all yourself. But sometimes the best things come out of collaboration. Working with others can give you new perspectives on your work, broaden your horizons and bring your creative output to another level.

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