No, not the game, or the second one, or the best racing game to ever be made -- Burnout 3 Takedown -- but the kind that leaves you feeling like an army of Uruk-hai just trampled you in their mad dash for the new deli shop that just opened across the street. Uruk-hai love fresh cut hickory smoked deli. Don't believe me? Ask one.
Burnout suuuuuccckkkks. And it's all too common with those who spend a good portion of their time creating. Creating, fixing our creations, putting our stuff out into the world and chewing our nails down past our flesh and into the bone in anxiety fueled trepidation... The constant imagining and intensive thinking we do when we aren't actually doing the creating.
And that's okay. That constant burning fire urging you to create every second you aren't, is good. That fire means you're doing what you were put on this little rock to do. But, like any fire, if left to blaze unchecked... The flames will spread where you don't want them to. They might even burn you. Burnout -- that feeling -- leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate-- wait, no. sorry. Wrong thing. Burnout can lead to creative blocks... and if you want to get past creative blocks (writer's block) you need to stop pretending it's a real thing. It's not. You can write even if you aren't feeling it. Even if you're burnt out. Trust me. You just need to cope with the burnout.
As I am someone who imposes lots of deadlines on himself in his writing projects, I've felt burnout as I race to the finish line. Those deadlines have trained me to become a disciplined writer, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been the occasional adverse affect from pushing myself too hard. Here's a few ways I've learned to cope with that feeling of burnout when I've been working on a project for a LONG while and it's starting to suffocate me. A lot of these seem simple, or obvious, but that doesn't make them any less important...
Take a break... duh...
This is the obvious answer, and probably the most effective to battling the feeling of creative burnout. This doesn't even have to be for very long, just set aside a night for drinks with friends, a board game night, a night with your significant other where you don't talk or think about your project. JUST GET AWAY. Be Bob and take a vacation from your problems (project). Let your brain burn turn toil and trouble over whatever might be stumping you in the project. Taking a break even for just a day if you have a rather demanding creative schedule can let you come back to the project with fresh eyes.
Does this look infected to you? (Get a second opinion)
A great way to get yourself motivated to write, paint, draw, or create -- is to have others excited and waiting for the final product. This is why, as a writer, I have beta readers. Of course they provide invaluable feedback when they read, of course, but they also bug me about how a book is coming along... Betas, family, and close friends you trust around your art can be great cheerleaders and help push you to the finish line with a strong finish.
AMBUSH YOUR PROJECT
Are you sitting down to create in the same spot, at the same time, and using the same tools each day. Then change that bat-channel! SHAKE IT UP LIKE A TATOOINE CANTINA ON COCAINE. Here's a list of a few things you can try to reignite your creative fires when it's getting hard to create:
- Music! Get something playing in the background to help you create... I suggest things without lyrics if you're writing. I find, personally, words in a song will distract me. Already listen to music?! Then maybe you need to blare it louder! Usually listen through headphones? Find some speakers and PUMP IT.
- Where you create... Don't just sit at home. A change of space can help get past your mental blocks like a ladder does a castle wall. Try a coffee shop. Library. Pub. A different room in your home. A different room in a friend's home. A different room in a stranger's home. A hotel room covered with drugs and illegal activities. JUST SHAKE IT UP.
- How you're creating -- this one's mainly for writers, but the concept applies to other art forms. Writing on a PC? Try freehand! (It'll suck to transcribe, but even trying a couple paragraphs on a pad of paper can really shift your mind's mental gear). Typing in the SAME OLD BORING FONT? F@CK Calibri! SCREW Times New Roman! Select all and change that font! The subtle shifts in line spacing and changing the way it looks can sometimes change your whole perception! Maybe try using voice to text technology! Again, shake it up where you can.
Caffeinate and just do it...
Sometimes you can't shake that burnout feeling on a project. Even breaks don't help. But, you have to finish it, because you know when it's done, you can rest. And then, and only then, will you be able to come back to it and do yo thang. You know when you return to it after it's completion, and THEN some time off, you can finally have those new eyes you need to see what's wrong with it.
To do this, you need to give yourself permission to make crap. Don't worry about it. Let it happen. That's another hour towards the 10,000. Or a few steps closer to your million words. And sometimes, even when you think your burnt out brain is doing nothing but crap on your canvas, you'll come back to it later and realize, hey this is actually not too bad. You'll see that you don't need your muse as much as you thought. Or maybe they don't even exist. Maybe it's all about your skill, and your craft, and what you can do when you train with your tools.
Just a few thoughts...