I've been working on an article about creative burnout — but have realised that it's hard to write such a thing whilst you're still feeling burnt out. What a delicious irony.

But I thought I'd write down my findings thus far...

It's easy to recognise the symptoms of creative burnout.

You feel completely drained. Perhaps to the point where even the thought of making a change is overwhelming. You're cranky, uninspired, and generally not much fun to be around.

There are many different causes of burnout.

Here are just some of the feelings you might have:

1) My career is meaningless… help!
2) I can’t get motivated
3) I’m just totally stressed out
4) Ugh, I keep getting sick, I need a proper break

Work overload is the easiest part of burnout to deal with

From the list above, it's #3 and #4 that I've been battling with this year. I spent a week in bed with flu earlier this month, and then another two weeks getting my strength back.

But these are the easiest causes of burnout to deal with in some ways... you "just" need to find a way to reduce your workload and look after yourself better.

(I've written "just" in recognition of the fact that not everyone has direct control over how much work is landing on their plate).

Sunshine and exercise help too. And sometimes just reframing your thoughts can make a huge difference too. (See "Your job is your escape route, not a trap).

Questions #1 and #2 are much harder to make sense of.

What does "meaningful" mean to you?

What motivates you? (Not just to get out of bed in the morning, but to keep chiseling away at something for days, weeks, months until something beautiful appears out of the dust.)

And following on from these questions, an even harder question:

If you could work for yourself, what work would you do?

Ooooft.

These are huge, huge, HUGE questions.

I'm afraid I don't have any answers for you just yet.

Instead, I'd like to invite you to chew these topics over.

I'm working on a series of articles that will help you (and me!) get some clarity on the causes of burnout, and how to make things better again.

A question for you

How has creative burnout has affected you, and how have you coped with it?
I'd love to hear your stories about burnout. Drop me a note here.


(PS. Here's my plan: I've put my freelance work on hold for the next 2 months, and I've got a 3 week trip to Scotland planned so that I can recharge my batteries. And yes, I feel very lucky that I'm in a position to do this.)


Posted to Uncategorised in 2016.

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