6 Tips on How to Overcome Creative Burnout
Published 30th June 2021
As creators, we put a lot of ourselves into every creative project we do, so it’s no surprise that many of us eventually suffer the dreaded creative burnout. It’s even harder when your livelihood depends on your constant creations. Burnout feels like the well of your creativity has been sucked dry, and you don’t know when (or if) it will fill up again.
The burning passion and enthusiasm you had for your work are gone. If you do manage to sit down at your workstation or pick up your camera, you produce nothing worthwhile. It becomes a joyless, grim task, and your sense of self-worth takes a real beating.
I’ve been there myself. But, the good news is that there are things you can do to fight creative burnout - and here’s some of the creative strategies that I used to help get my groove back again.
Experiment with different mediums
Part of the problem is the constant repetition of what we do well day in, day out. It can become boring when you are no longer stretching your creativity. Try to avoid falling into a comfortable pattern with your practice, whether that be photography, design, or painting.
One of the best ways to shake things up is to experiment with mediums outside of your comfort zone. This encourages creative growth and produces interesting outcomes.
For instance, as photographers, we tend to become used to one or two particular forms of lighting because they’ve worked well for us in the past. Consider experimenting with different lighting techniques instead, like flash, continuous, and natural lighting.
If you always use natural or strobe lighting, why not try a light wand instead? The Yongnuo LED Light Wand has multiple uses for different types of photography. This light wand is a continuous lighting option, so you can use it with a smartphone or for shooting video, as well as with a DSLR camera. The RGB colour changing lights let you pick and experiment with any colour on the spectrum, so there’s no limits on your imagination.
The Yongnuo Ice Stick Light Wand is also highly portable and comes with Bluetooth connectivity for when inspiration strikes. It’s also a lot of fun to use in your creative projects.
If you’ve never used a flash strobe before, then the Godox AD200Pro 200W Portable Outdoor Flash Strobe will open up a new world of photography for you. It’s a lightweight, portable flash that can be used either indoors or out, thanks to the rechargeable battery. It’s great for beginners with flash, and it works with the Godox Wireless X trigger system.
Change your scenery
You probably have habitual places where you shoot a lot, and have become comfortable with them. However, familiarity breeds contempt as the old saying has it, and a change of place could help you get back your enthusiasm.
If you always shoot at home or in the studio, try getting out and about to find inspiration in nature or architecture. On the flip side, if you shoot outdoors a lot then try using a studio instead, or create your own home studio.
Let go of perfection
“Done is always better than perfect” is a mantra that I try to stick to. Otherwise, I would walk away from a project if I didn’t think it was going to be perfect - and perfection is unattainable. Yes, it’s difficult to let go of your expectations, but your creative work will end up suffering if you don’t.
Mistakes happen and things go wrong all the time, but if we hold on to this fear of failure, we will never recover from burnout. It’s essential to start every project with a fresh mind and not bring your perfectionist baggage with you. Lessen your expectations and get on with it - or you may find that you never start any creative project because you fear that it won’t be ‘perfect’.
If you’re shooting in a studio, then a good strobe flash like the Godox SK400ii 400w Studio Flash strobe Head and a quality light modifier like the Godox Collapsible Octagon Softbox will give you one less thing to worry about.
The SK400ii will help you achieve the lighting you want with ease, and the octagon softbox is a great choice for softening and diffusing light for a natural look. If you want to experiment with creative effects, try out other light modifiers, such as barndoors or grids.
Let colour inspire you
Bringing colour into your creative projects is a great way to add meaning to your work. There’s a meaning attached to every colour and the way they effect our moods and feelings. Look at how others have used colour in their creative works, and get inspired by seeing the way different colours work together.
A good way to put a splash of colour into your photography is to use a coloured paper backdrop. These backdrops come in over 30 different colours, and come in full width, half-width, and custom cut sizes.
Be bold and try combining two different backdrop colours that you normally wouldn’t use together, or try our Kaleidoscope Series Mottled Tie-Dye Muslins. These backdrops are durable, reusable, and easy to wash, and come in three mottled colours: Smokey Eye, Life’s a Festival, and Down to Earth. Muslins like this are perfect for both the studio and for shooting outdoors.
Think within the box
We’ve all heard of thinking outside the box, but when it comes to creative burnout, thinking inside the box can help shake loose some good ideas. Thinking inside the box means you have a clear understanding of your creative goals and parameters, and be willing to work within them.
For instance, a literal box like the Foldio3 25” All-in-one Photography Tent Box will give you the creative constraint that will enable you to work within it to create thousands of outcomes. The Foldio3 comes with two different coloured backdrops and LED light strips that will help you produce different looks. You can even do flat lay photography with the Foldio3 - just lay it on its back for flat lay and build your image from there.
Invest in personal projects
If you are always working or studying, then it can be hard to find time to work on your personal creative hobbies or passion projects. Worse still, working on projects that don’t fulfil you can lead to creative burnout.
Sometimes picking a completely unrelated personal project or hobby can help you deal with burnout in your creative work. Find some things you’ve always wanted to try or that you already enjoy but don’t have much time for, and just have fun. Things like this can be the route back to re-igniting your creativity.
You don’t have to suffer for your art. Creative burnout is a very real problem, but if you use some of the ideas above, you can help to prevent and combat it. A few other tips include:
- Distracting yourself by enjoying the artwork of others
- Don’t let yourself become isolated when working on projects - have a life outside of the studio or workplace
- Take a short but complete break from your creative projects, if you can. Even a day or two spent away from your work in a beautiful place can help you reconnect