A to Z: Dogs and Creative Burnout

“It's important that you don't lie to yourself. If you lie to yourself, you end up with burnout.” - Patrick Pichette

In my quest to commit myself to more personal art projects this year, I burned myself out.

I have been listening to videos from various professionals, who were talking a lot about the importance of personal art projects and also warning about “creating art just to post on social media”. I started my A to Z: Dogs series as a fun personal project that I’ve wanted to do for a few years now. I was excited, motivated, and really enjoying the process of creating each dog.

As I was nearing the end of the series, I realized that drawing each dog felt like a chore, my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. I was making the series to post on social media now, instead of for my own personal enjoyment as it was originally intended. The trouble began when I started to feel this way about my art in general - so I forced myself to take a break.

Creative burnout is a scary thing. For me personally, it’s hard to differentiate between creative burnout and depression. I feel numb to my art, but frustrated with myself because I know I should be creating something.

Every time I’ve experienced burnout I’ve thought about my career choices, thinking I should be doing something else. But every time, when I ask myself what I’d rather do, I say “nothing”. Art is my passion, I love creating for myself, I love creating for others, I love my job. This reminder is what keeps me going; I take a break for a bit, and come back when I’m ready and inspired.

This list contains what I usually do when I need to take a creative break to recharge or think I’m on the edge of creative burnout:

  • Make a list of my problems and possible ways to solve them

  • Make a list of my short term and long term goals and steps to take to achieve them

  • Talk to someone about my thoughts and issues, and be open to their feedback

  • Play video games, Watch animated movies/tv shows, Read books

  • Bake or Cook

  • Clean and Organize

  • Watch speed paints and videos from artists who inspire me

  • Look at my inspiration boards on Pinterest and Instagram

  • Doodle for the sake of doodling

The truth is, many artists - professional or not - go through some form of burnout. We’re only human; be kind to yourself and know that “the wise rest at least as hard as they work” -Mokokoma Mokhonoana