Although I’ve alluded to this a few times in my other articles (such as my article about writer’s block and my article about multiple projects), I thought that it might be a good idea to write about creative burnout since I’ve decided to put my “Damania” comics on hiatus yet again. I’ll be producing “ordinary” art for a while (and posting it both here and on my DeviantART gallery ) until can work out what my next comics project will be. Sorry about this, but creative burnout was a factor in this decision.
Anyway, creative burnout isn’t quite the same thing as writer’s block, but they’re fairly similar – creative burnout can happen if you spend a long time working on one project or if you’ve been focusing all of your creativity in one direction for quite a while. This probably varies from person to person and project to project, but after a while, you can end up feeling… well, burnt out. Yes, you could still work on the project if you wanted to, but the ideas don’t come as quickly and it has lost the “spark” which it had when you started it. In short, you’re feeling burnt out.
Don’t worry, all is not lost – there’s one really obvious and simple trick you can use to get past this.
Create something that feels spontaneous. It’s that simple, really.
Yes, this will probably mean putting your current project on hiatus for a while, but it can really work wonders and it can keep you interested in creativity too (although, if you’re a writer/artist/poet etc.. then nothing could probably put you off of creativity forever). If you’ve got a deadline or you still want to keep your current project going, then just take it in a different direction that feels fun and spontaneous (for example, I was able to stave off creative burnout for a day or two by adding a new story arc to my “Damania” comic which was set in America and had different versions of the main characters).
But, the most important thing is that it must feel fun and spontaneous. It must be something that either feels totally relaxing (eg: switching from comics to “ordinary” art means that I can take a break from writing dialogue) or it must be something that you can’t wait to start and which you also can’t help but geek out about too.
If, for some reason, you’re having trouble thinking of what actually feels spontaneous to you – then just ask yourself “If I could write and/or draw literally anything I wanted to right now and I didn’t have to worry about anyone reading it, what would it be?” Your answer may well surprise you.
Your new and spontaneous creative direction may be something completely different to what you’ve previously been working on too. This isn’t a bad thing – although it may puzzle some of your readers, it’s a sign that you’re growing and changing as an artist or a writer. You can probably think of at least one famous author, musician, artist or comics writer who has suddenly changed from one genre to another genre – maybe you were even one of their fans who was alienated or shocked by this. Well, now you probably understand one reason why it happens.
In short, you will do your best work when it feels spontaneous rather than when it feels exhausting and slow. The solution to this is to change your work – either put your current work on hiatus and work on something else or take your current work in a direction which is more interesting and exciting to you.
If this sounds strange, then it shouldn’t. If you think about it, creativity is all about change. In fact, it is change. Art and writing are basically about transforming a blank page into either part of a story or a picture. Every interesting story has a plot which moves forward at a reasonable pace and constantly changes. Even “static” works of art are usually at their best when they make you think about something different or they look like a single moment from a longer story.
When you stick with the same creative thing for long enough without enough changes to it, you’re going to feel stagnant and burnt out. Even if it’s something which works really well and which you could practically produce in your sleep. Creative burnout isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a sign that you need to go in another direction and, ideally, that direction should be one which feels spontaneous.
Yes, eventually, even your new project will start to feel tired and old and you may feel burnt out about it. But, when that happens, just either switch back to one of your older projects (as I’ll probably end up doing with “Damania” sometime in the future) or just start another new project. It’s that simple.
I hope that this has been useful to you 🙂