How to recover from creative burnout
6 ways to recharge your spark
Hey there —
We’ve all experienced the frustration of creative block, when our well of inspiration seems to run dry the moment we need to come up with a new idea or creative solution. 😶
But what if your anxiety spikes every time you sit down in front of your computer?
What if just looking at your camera triggers the thought, “Everything I make sucks and it’s going to suck forever”?
What if you’re struggling to even want to create something in the first place? 😰
In that case, you may be experiencing creative burnout.
Amelia Nagoski, co-author of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle describes the experience of burnout as “…feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by everything you have to do, yet still somehow worried you’re not doing enough.”
Creative burnout goes much deeper than a mere block or lack of inspiration. And continuously pushing past your limits can cause lasting harm to your creativity and career.
The good news is, with some intentional practices, you can come back from burnout (or even better, avoid it altogether). Here are six tips to get you started on the road to creative recovery.
Eat, sleep, and stay hydrated. You won’t get very far with the rest of these tips if you’re not addressing your most basic needs first. Make sure your body has the fuel it needs to get out of survival mode and into the creative flow.
Give it a rest (you and your work). Contrary to what hustle culture has taught us, taking a rest — from daily breaks to a full-on sabbatical — is more likely to help you get ahead than make you fall behind. If you’ve filmed the same clip a half-dozen times or rewritten those last two paragraphs three different ways…that’s your cue to step away.
Switch things up. Swap your digital tools for physical ones (e.g. your Notes app for a pen and paper) and get out of the office (or house). Taking a departure from your typical creative spaces and tools gives your brain a refreshing change of pace and can help clear the fog.
Lower the pressure. Create something with zero agenda or deadline, solely for the fun of it. Remove the pressure to always make things everyone else will love, and reconnect with what you love about being creative.
Set limits to help you make progress — and let go. According to Greg McKeown the key is “not only to have a minimum boundary...but always to have an upper bound.” (For example, in his journaling practice, McKeown writes a minimum of one sentence a day and a maximum of five — no more, no less.) An easily-attainable minimum means you won’t get frustrated by falling short, and an upper bound leaves enough fuel in the tank for tomorrow.
Be honest. Trying to force creativity will only leave you feeling more defeated. Instead, muster up the courage to be proactive and take honest steps towards recovery. Ask if a deadline can be moved or take a sick day instead of (once again) “powering through” — and don’t feel guilty for prioritizing your wellbeing.
Remember, creative burnout happens (to a lot of us!) and it’s not a reflection of your dedication, passion, or talents. (And it’s nothing to be ashamed of.)
By implementing better work/rest practices, you can recover — and avoid draining your resources in the future.
Trust us, you’ve got plenty more creativity ahead. Just be sure to focus on taking care of yourself today. 🥰
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Kinder to do lists
by Beck Tench
If your to-do list is constantly causing you stress, then maybe it’s time for a different approach. 📝
Designer and researcher Beck Tench set out to make a to-do list that would provide a sense of possibility — one that would inspire her to create, just like looking at the ingredients in her pantry inspired her to cook.
What she discovered was one small tweak that helped her feel less overwhelmed and more self-compassionate. The key: intentional language that trades commands and forced productivity for reminders of who you want to be.
Try it out for yourself and you may just breathe a little easier this week.
How to give yourself time to think
by Mark Mann
“Sometimes our most important work doesn’t fit nicely on a list of achievables…”
This statement from journalist and editor Mark Mann made us stop in our tracks and think “YES.”
As Mann goes on to say in this article, we often get so focused on survival — not just literal survival, but meeting all the demands on our time and attention — that we neglect our creativity.
This guide will help you plan your next personal retreat, (that you can do from anywhere and in as little as a few hours), so you can take a step back, find your flow, and come back refreshed and brimming with ideas. 💡
If you sit for 6+ hours a day, read this
By Dan Go
This month’s habit challenge to sit up straight is a great start for combating the negative effects of sitting all day.
But when you’re ready to level up, this collection of exercises shared by performance coach Dan Go are designed to build endurance in your lower back and increase core stability — so you can save yourself from physical burnout, too. 💪
Meet Peter! Peter’s YouTube channel combines his varied creative and business experience to bring you insights and tools for building your dream career and life. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your skills as a content creator, craft a successful resume, or learn how to meditate, Peter’s got a helpful and encouraging guide to get you there. 🧭
Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hi, I'm Peter — I'm a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs turned singer-songwriter turned content creator, living in San Francisco. My YouTube channel is about helping young working professionals build a career, YouTube business, and life that they love. It also houses my podcast, "The Inner Creator with Peter Su" (in my Live tab), which aims to inspire and empower creative entrepreneurs to become the most authentic and helpful version of themselves.
Why do you create? Who is your content for?
I create because it's fun, I love expressing myself, I love learning, and I love sharing what I learn with others and being helpful to them in some way. I grew up pursuing the traditional path of "success" — I got into UC Berkeley, became an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, and then a venture capitalist at a $2Bn fund investing in startups in San Francisco. But that whole time I always daydreamed about starting a band, writing, expressing myself.
When I was 25 I decided to finally go for it and moved to LA to write and perform songs as a singer-songwriter. I spent 5 years in LA and got to check a lot of items off my 15-year-old bucket list — record at the studio where Prince recorded Purple Rain, sell out the Hotel Cafe, do an indie tour around the US — but ultimately realized I enjoyed writing but not singing, and that I wanted more stability in my life (making money as a musician is extremely hard), plus I wanted to express more of the business side of myself. I moved back to San Francisco and got back into tech and startups where it was awesome to express more of the business side of myself, but I was missing the creative side and connecting to people on an emotional level. During COVID I left the startup and started my Youtube channel as a way to integrate the creative and business sides of myself, and hopefully help people in a meaningful way.
I create for creative entrepreneurs — anyone that wants to express themselves more authentically, have fun, and help others. I think my experience can help people that want to move from corporate to creative like I did. I think of the 25 year old version of me, who was in a comfortable venture capital job in San Francisco, but wanted to pursue his long-held closet dream to write and make music for people. I think of the perspective or advice I would give him.
The biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began creating content?
Be honest with myself. I try to ask myself — "What do you really want to get out of making content?" Is it to make money, just have fun, help people, express yourself, validate your self-worth through performance, something else? I've struggled with this question because for a long time I was trying to have fun, help people, and make money — and not doing a great job at either. I've noticed people that are really clear on their purpose (which then leads to a clear niche) have simple and effective channel strategies, are more focused, enjoy the process more, and get more results they're happy with.
One thing you wish you knew before you started?
Watch more Matt D'Avella! JK — I'd probably write down my goal and purpose (what I'm getting out of making videos), so that I could make videos and niche down earlier. I took Ali Abdaal's Part Time Youtuber Academy about 1.5 years ago and I noticed probably 80%+ of my classmates stopped making videos after about 3 months. The people that have been consistent and playing the long-game, I think they were clearer on what they were getting out of making videos (aka the Simon Sinek "Start with Why").
In one to two sentences, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring creators or self-development nerds?
Have fun, be honest with yourself and what you want, keep trying things and learning, and focus on just helping 1 person with each video.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
For taste, it would be an In-N-Out Double Double Animal Style with fries. For health, probably grilled broccoli and chicken.
Written by Ashley Martin
Edited by Matt D'Avella