Are you feeling exhausted? Overwhelmed? Frustrated with your work as a creative? Are you even starting to dread or resent your work? Well, it sounds like you might be experiencing creative burnout. But don’t worry. There is a cure.
If you’re feeling cynical about work or sick at the thought of creating content for your business, you might just have it. Read on to find out why…and how to deal.
What is creative burnout?
We don’t mean to sound like a 90s infomercial where people struggle with the most oddly-specific tasks.
Creative burnout is a real thing. And you don’t even have to work in a creative field to experience it. If you regularly create content (in its many forms) for your business, it can happen to you.
Everyone experiences creative burnout differently, but here are some examples of what it may look like for you:
- Feeling “broken,” or like you’ve lost your creativity
- Fixating on the creative process to the point of obsession
- Doubting the quality of your work or every decision you make
- Thinking you’re just not talented enough to get the job done
- Dreading work and procrastinating
- Being afraid to fail
And just like “regular” burnout, creative burnout can impact you physically, too. Exhaustion, trouble eating or sleeping, mind fog, headaches — all of these can be symptoms.
Reason #1: You’re busy — and your mind and body are feeling it
As a biz owner, you’re busy. Duh. Running a business on its own comes with so many tasks and systems and moving parts that you have to handle. When your business is going well — clients are booking you, products are selling, etc. — your full plate gets even fuller.
Then, maybe you struggle to get your podcast scripts right. Or you have a great idea for a new offer, but you just can’t bring it to life the way you see it in your head. Or, you find yourself unhappy with everything you create for a client.
Sounds like creative burnout to us.
How to fix it: Rediscover your “why”
Of course, it’s great when business is booming. But when you get so busy to the point of creative burnout, you risk losing sight of why you launched your biz in the first place.
If you’re asking yourself how you got to this point and how you can start a new career as a panda cuddler or Keanu Reeves’ girlfriend, pause and take a breath. It’s time to reflect on why you’re feeling burned out so you can figure out how to feel better.
Think about your business’s mission or vision statement. Why do you do what you do? Is there anything in your day-to-day life that doesn’t support your statement? What sparks your creativity? How do you get into your creative flow?
Reason #2: You have too much to do and too little time
Okay, so you have a lot on your to-do list. Because your plate is so full, you’re starting to feel creative burnout. You know you have to make changes, but you’re not sure what those changes are. Or if they’ll stress you out even more and make the problem worse.
How to fix it: Automate, restructure, and delegate
We say this in the gentlest, most loving way possible: quit trying to do everything yourself, alright?
Lean on others. Bring people on board who can share your workload. We know budgets can be tight in the early days of business ownership, but we promise, if you can invest in a freelancer or employee, do it. Even better if they can take on areas of your biz that get in the way of your creative skills.
And if you’re not in the position to hire yet? You can still make positive changes that’ll get those creative juices flowing again.
If you’re constantly over capacity, determine what can wait, what can be delegated, and what can be paused or removed. Find tools or automations that free up space in your schedule. Got toxic clients who are never happy with your work? Maybe it’s time to have a tough conversation.
We know it can certainly feel like it, but you are not powerless. You can make changes that will help you heal from and prevent creative burnout.
Reason #3: You’re putting too much pressure on yourself
Imagine someone else in your industry going viral on TikTok or getting hundreds of thousands of subscribers on YouTube, thus getting a huge boost in business. You want in on that action, right? You start dancing your ass off on TikTok and buy a ring light for your new YouTube setup.
But…you don’t get the same results as your competitor. Ugh.
So you work even harder. You change your SEO strategy. You use all the trending audio and try all the new challenges. You even begin consuming more TikToks and YouTube videos than can be reasonably called “research.”
At some point, you start to hate TikTok and YouTube. But you can’t quit now! You’ve spent all this time developing content for these channels. You should be better at this.
How to fix it: Take a break and let it go
That mindset of “I’ve spent all this time and can’t quit now” is known as the sunk cost fallacy, friends. Sunk cost usually applies to money, but it’s relevant to your time, too.
Just because you’ve invested your resources in a new creative venture doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it forever. That’s a surefire way to resent creating content and feel creative burnout. You don’t have to go viral or make successful content for every single platform out there.
Look at what content creation you’re resenting or dreading in your biz. Can you focus on a different platform? Change your strategy? Take a break? Or let it go completely? All of those options are okay.
Avoid creative burnout in the future
It can be hard to spot signs of creative burnout in yourself. It can be even harder admitting you have it and dealing with it head on.
But once you have, take note of how creative burnout manifests in you and what triggers it. You’ll know how to spot its symptoms in the future. Keep track of how you’ve overcome it, too. That can include everything from hiring a full-time employee to taking a break to doing something creative in your free time.
If you’re smack in the middle of creative burnout, we’ll leave you with these words. Your well of creativity hasn’t run dry. You’re an amazing biz owner, and you can tap into that creativity again.