Written by Michaela MacBlake Matthews
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and we all need to step away from our hobbies from time to time. Maybe we have more creations than we know what to do with, we’re overwhelmed with works in progress, or after a long stretch of dedicated making, we just don’t feel like we have that spark anymore.
Creative burnout can be a very real challenge, but even when we need a little break, we don’t want to let it become a full blown hiatus! After all, we’ve taken a lot of time and dedication to build our skills, and develop the habit of investing in ourselves and our hobbies- we know that routine can be hard to get back into. So, how do you take a break without coming to a full stop?
Identify The Creative Burnout
What is keeping you from doing the thing you love, and where does it come from? Is the burnout coming from the crafting and creating itself, or from other parts of your life? Is life too hectic, or is your process becoming too chaotic to keep track of?
Sometimes, the source can be a little bit of both. If the environment of your crafting practice has changed or moved, it could take a little adjustment time to feel motivated again. If your muse and source of inspiration has suffered a shock, you might feel like you have to start all over again. Or, if you’ve undergone a fundamental change in yourself, the styles you’ve built may need some refreshing.
Take A Closer Look At The Context
If you love to create, then somehow, some way, it has been filling a need. That could be beautifying your life, self expression, being challenged, or even simply the routine of it- just to name a few! Whatever your reason for crafting, think about how it has felt over the years to reap those rewards. Hold it in your mind for a moment, and reference back to where you were in your life, and how creating has fit into the bigger picture along the way.
With a little bit of quiet time, it should start to come clear how creativity fits into your life as a whole, and offer a bit of perspective on this particular period of burnout, right now. From your experience so far, can you make an educated guess about how long this phase will last? Or better yet, how is it measured? How will you know when it’s time to start up again? Is it a task that needs to be completed, a level of recharge, or a certain depth of processing life’s changes?
Take time to think through the typical ebbs and flows of your own progression, and take note of how it unfolds.
Mark Out The Off-Time
After some soul-searching over your burnout and recovery time, you should have a vague idea of how far you are from creating again. This doesn’t need to be a set time, but rather, is more of a feeling. It could be heavy or light, internal or external, simple or complex… all based on you and your needs.
With that length in mind, and the cause of the burnout in hand, ask yourself, what is the easiest way to soothe that sore spot? Do you enjoy looking at finished projects, or watching movies with an aesthetic that resonates with your creative style? Do you like to watch tutorials, seek out color and texture combinations in your day-to-day life, or find unique ways to use your craft?
Whatever your passive-inspo hobby is, don’t boycott it for your break! Allow yourself to enjoy those little sparks, and trust that when you do get back to it, you’ll be better off. Consider how these little snippets fuel your creativity from a subconscious level, and how much you can glean during this off-time.
Because after all… we do the mental work of spring cleaning in the winter, and then do the heavy lifting when the weather is nice.
Let It Unfold
At the end of the day, you will always know when you’re ready to go back to creating, it’s just a matter of remembering not to forget. Intense emotions and bolded chapters in our lives may threaten to come between us and what we love, but time after time, it has always been there, waiting for us to be ready.
Know your reason, know yourself, and keep an ember glowing… That’s all inspiration needs to reignite.
"Mac" is on the Lifestyle Team here at Darn Good Yarn, and loves taking a ‘teach a man to fish’ approach to creative therapy. She is certified in neuro-linguistic programming, and is also the surreal artist and author behind Surrealismac.