Creative Mondays #039 – Take a break.
Even though we all love creating, there are times when we can get burnt out. When this happens take a break. Nothing will recharge your batteries faster than taking a little time off.
You need to be careful though, you don’t want to take a break, get so busy with ‘real life’ responsibilities that you never return to your art. But taking a few days away from your current project with a set date to return is not a bad idea to help with burnout.
Another thing I like to do to help avoid burnout is have a couple projects going at once. I have a couple different longer stories that I’m working on and I will work on one for a few weeks, then take a break and work on another for a few weeks, and then come back to the first one. I find that this helps keep the stories fresh. Also I find that spending time away from a certain project will give me time to generate new ideas that I can bring with me when I return to it.
I’m not speaking of taking a break when real life intervenes. Unfortunately, that happens a lot more than we would probably like. What I’m talking about here is actually setting aside a periods where you say, “I’m bonn stop working on this for a bit and then come back to it.” You make a conscience choice to take a break.
Taking a break may tell you a little about your project as well. If you take a break from what you’re working on and find you don’t have a real desire to return to it, that may mean that the project isn’t speaking to your true creative self. Don’t spend your time working on a project that isn’t 100% what you want to be working on. That’s not saying scrap a project completely if you find you don’t want to go back to it after taking a break. Just set focus your energy on projects you do want to work on. The unfinished project may actually come in useful.
A year or so ago, I was approached by a producer to come up with some scripts for short interstitials that would, hopefully, wind up on television. I got really excited about the project and wrote out ten scripts over the course of two days. They were short scripts, about a minute long each, so it wasn’t like some big Herculean effort or anything. I was excited about the possibilities this project presented. Then, though, the producer got really busy with other projects and so this one fell by the wayside, as did my passion to create for it. I really liked writing the scripts in this style but I stopped because I knew the project wasn’t going to continue, at least nit then.
A few months later, I got the idea for the Uncle Interloper Pieces and Bits segments. As I was writing out the scripts for them, I realized that a lot of the scripts I had written for the other project would work perfectly for this one. Boom! I suddenly had 10 more scripts to add to the few I had completed already. Sure, they needed some tweaking to find this project, but all that work before was now coming in handy. So, if you take a break from a project, don’t trash it! You may be able to cannibalize it for something else.
People say things work in cycles. I think this can be applied to creative people as well, especially those who, like me, practice in several disciplines. It has been a good year or two since I’ve really sat down and tried to write a comedy music song for my act Throwing Toasters. In the meantime, I’ve been busy with puppet fun, improv and other pursuits. But I can feel the urge to write songs again bubbling in the back of my brain. I’ve been jotting down song ideas left and right. Soon, after taking a bit of a break from comedy songwriting, it’ll be time to pick up the guitar again and get going. When you are truly creative, your brain won’t let you take a break for too long!
We’ve spoken on here before about how creative work is hard work. Just like any nine to five job, you’ll need to take a break every now and then. Do it. Use it to recharge your batteries, invigorate your creative mind and return to your creating with a renewed passion!
Do you take breaks in your creative work? Do you fin them helpful in inspiring you to create more? Let us know in the comments below. Have a great week!
It’s important to know the signs of burnout. I’m taking the entire rest of 2014 off from shows (I might make one exception before Christmas). There is a LOT of talk about Comic Cons and artists not doing well right now, and I know I was getting burned out because I wasn’t having fun anymore. I’m hoping when I return to the con scene next year, I’ll come back with fresher art and a better attitude.
I also think it’s important to take a break from your professional projects and do something for no one but yourself. I’m really trying to focus more on that in the coming months (another reason to take a break from shows, don’t have to prep stuff for other people to buy).
If you spend all your time working on projects, I think you miss out on living some life that might have lead to a great story idea. Work hard, but get out there and enjoy the world outside your studio.
Kristin – Super well put. I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. I especially like the idea of working on something solely for yourself. Such a great way to refresh your creativity! Thanks so much for your input, I really appreciate it.