As writers and artists, we know well that creativity can be fragile. It needs just enough (but not too much!) inspiration to thrive, and artists are notoriously so hard on themselves to always be creative. It is normal for creativity to fluctuate for many reasons, such as sleep or stress, and this can mask as procrastination, tiredness, and lack of motivation. When this happens, people who rely on creativity for work or emotional outlets can have uncomfortable impacts.
How do you know if you’re facing creative burnout? You could find yourself endlessly exhausted, forever procrastination, and struggling to do even the most basic tasks. You could compare early versions of your own work to completed versions of someone else’s and insist it’s not good enough—this is a term you might be familiar with called imposter syndrome. And the biggest symptom of all is unbalanced content consumption—are you creating as much as you’re receiving? Or are you stuck in hours of Netflix binges and TikTok scrolls?
Solving creative burnout could be super simple or could take some time. One of the first things I recommend to any budding writer struggling with creativity is to find yourself a community. Don’t worry if this is something that isn’t easy for you to do in your location because community can even come from online. I love the community I’ve gained in past years from Instagram, TikTok, and even Twitter. Fostering friendships with other creatives is so important to solving your own block.
It’s also important to take breaks and realize that you will not be creative all the time. Even people who do office jobs or teach or drive buses get burnt out from doing these jobs, and artistry isn’t any different. Put your work down and do literally anything else. Feed your creativity with museums and libraries and literary events. If you don’t have any in your community, set up your own! Start a book club, work with local bookstores to schedule writing events, and more.
The last big point I have is to practice mindfulness and make space for self-reflection. It is so easy to tire of your own work and think that it sucks, because you’ve read it a thousand times and you read it when it did actually suck. Every month, I sit down and write the things I’ve accomplished the past month, even if they’re only little things. Write how you finished a new draft or kept up with your content creation or even finished an ARC from a really cool author. Appreciating your accomplishments is one of the easiest ways to grow.
Okay, so you’re not burnt out anymore, but how can we stop this from happening again? The key to prevention is metacognition—being aware of your own awareness to determine what works best for you—and mindfulness—being consciously present in your work. Develop habits, strategies, and goals that work best for you and your creative outlet. Be conscious of what you’re learning and continue to grow and teach yourself creatively regularly.
Creative burnout is one of the most stressful things to come from being an artist, but by developing a plan to attack and keep it away from the work that matters most, you can become a healthy, thriving artist of your own right.
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