It can seem like a lot, to constantly use your mind to imagine and design creative/graphics 365 days a year. Some would think, “at some point do you just run out of ideas?” It can honestly feel like that sometimes, feeling a creative block stops your motivation to be at the top of your game, but Creative Burnout can happen even to the best of creatives.
What is “Creative Burnout”?
Well, Creative Burnout, or Creative Block, is that feeling you get when you no longer have the drive or motivation for what you are working on. This can happen across many skills from Graphic Design, Illustration, Photography, and many forms of art in between. Even the best of creatives have felt this annoying and seemingly black hole where all those great ideas are sucked into.
It may seem impossible, but there are ways to overcome Creative Burnout.
- Take Time to Draw: Even if you think you can’t, I suggest trying. I can’t count the number of times simply sitting down with a pencil and paper has pushed me out of burnout and given me some great ideas for future creative. Even if it has nothing to do with your current project, allowing your mind to run free and play will allow your brain to take a break from the autopilot of the day-to-day.
- Tunes!: This may not be for everyone, but who doesn’t like music? I tend to listen to music without lyrics – music that I am able to just listen to rather than focus on. With lyrics, I find myself singing or humming to the song, but without lyrics and just music in the background, it helps boost my mood and inspire my creativity without distracting parts of my mind.
- Check out new tools & techniques: We all know that many of the common design programs out there *cough cough* Adobe… have countless tools that we have never used or even heard of. I suggest exploring and trying them out. The worst that can happen is you realize your idea was better. But branching out from what you normally do will only grow your capabilities as a creative.
- Utilize all there is to offer: Personally speaking, Adobe has a great creative suite (pun intended), but how many creatives can say they have tried out all of the programs? Yes, you may say “I just don’t have the time”, but I bet you would have the time if you were more marketable as a creative and in turn, could lead to much better opportunities. Why can’t the Photographer learn Illustrator or the Graphic Designer learn After Effects? Yes, some know all of them, but for a lot of creatives, once they have graduated college with their degree in hand, they tend to stop learning and stick to the same few programs daily. Honestly, I used to only know Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, but I had a revelation: “why am I limiting myself and my knowledge?” So, I took it upon myself to use and learn many of the other programs I never even downloaded before, and it has drastically changed my creative output, giving me the confidence to tackle nearly any project I come across.
- Design for YOU: Another method, at least for Graphic Designers, is to simply design something else. What I mean is, if you feel you’re stuck on a project for your boss or client, try taking 15-20 minutes and work on something you want to work on. I’ve come to find that for some Graphic Designers, being told what to work on might unintentionally put you in a creative block, but working on something you are interested in and truly enjoy is a nice mental break and can help refresh your exhausted creative mind.
- Find Inspiration: Follow famous designers or agencies on social media. Check out design websites like Dribbble and The DieLine to see what is new in the design world. Take the time to see what other creatives are doing, but never get discouraged. Instead, look at what they’ve done and dissect it. Think about how they did it and how you could do it better. Then, try using what you found as inspiration toward your next project.
- Lastly, get a hobby: Find something you’re passionate about and do it. For me, that is Woodworking or Leather Craft. Being able to escape one creative outlet for another turns off the design part of my mind to recharge. Plus, there is nothing better than the smell of sawdust.
Burnout is one of the hardest things to overcome creatively. Pushing your mind each day can be mentally draining at times. But, allowing yourself the time and patience to overcome it will only allow you even more time to produce better creative while utilizing your time efficiently. Overcoming burnout will show you what you are truly capable of.