Creating is such a necessity. I find that even in the lowest lows of my life, I’m making something. We all are. It may be by cooking, writing, taking photos (even when you’re not a photographer), doodling, sewing, practicing make up skills; anything really that demands use of your creativity especially beyond “logical” thinking. Creativity is something we all possess and use in varying degrees.
So what happens when for some reason you stop creating. Perhaps you don’t even enjoy it as much as you used to anymore. What do you do? As someone who’s experienced ‘creative burnout’ and lost joy in making, a few times but who’s somehow found her way back, I have a few helpful suggestions:
What to do
Take a break to live life, refocus and be inspired: This is always my first suggestion when someone feels desperately uninspired and tired of making. A break doesn’t have to mean a month long sabbatical. It can be three days or a week. My gauging system is usually staying away long enough until I’m itching to come back to making. Until I’m feeling like I need to take my camera out or just write a stream of words or share some epiphany. Honestly, creating under these conditions make it such a joy. I realize that a lot of people create for a living and may not have the luxury of just taking time off whenever they please. Still, I recommend it, no matter for how short a time. The results are so worth it.
Take off the pressure by doing it just for you: You don’t have to share what you make in your off time. Spend time just journaling for you (if writing’s your thing). Resist the urge to share. Instant gratification can be addictive, but stop yourself and just work for you. Take photos for yourself. Sit with your art and remember why you fell in love with it. Making art is like a marriage. Sometimes, the love ‘fades’ and you have to remind yourself why this is what you want. Make a dress just for yourself. Play with designs without the pressure of what other people will think. Make for you, as it was in the beginning before you became brave enough to share. This is when the magic happens.
Create what you want. Forget about what people think: As similar as this is to the point above is, this is different. What happens when you create and share in the beginning is that people start to like your work and people like predictability. They like to come back and know they’ll see the same style of art, but before you find your niche and even after, experimentation is necessary. Don’t trap yourself creating things you don’t enjoy anymore because that’s what people like. Growth is a major part of creativity and if your art is changing, trying to stay the same will only hurt you. I read somewhere that we only grow when we’re doing what we like/are interested in. So write the kind of poetry, prose, music you like. Make the kind of clothes you want etc. The people who like what you do will like it and those who won’t, will not. And hey, that’s OKAY.
Try a new art form. Sometimes we need a new way of seeing the world: A lot of creative people love more than one art form, even though they aren’t necessary maestros at them all. So don’t beat yourself if maybe you’re not necessarily currently on fire for a certain form of expression but you’re doing other things. Like I said here, we can really only do so many things at once, unfortunately, especially when you have a whole other full time job. Do something new: try a new hobby. If it’s something you’re really bad at, even better, because then you really do it simply for the purpose of making.
Don’t give up on making: Really, don’t. You’ll just come back making something else. If you’re truly creative, you can’t help it. You can’t stay away muahahaha. Do it for the joy first and everything else will follow.
Stay happy, folks. And take care of yourself this week. Happy Monday!