Six Helpful Tips to Avoid the Stress of Creative Burnout

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed. Maybe it’s the pandemic starting to finally get to me (well, get to me more than it already was.) Or perhaps it has something to do with all the expectations I’ve piled on top of myself. Perhaps a bit of both.

          If we creative types want to avoid burnout, which is a few steps away from overwhelmed, there are some things we should do. So, let’s get into it: Six Ways to Avoid Burnout:

  1. Avoid setting unrealistic goals and expectations for yourself on the regular.

          I think it’s fine to do a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or Inktober or the equivalent in your field…for some people. But every month of writing around 50,000 words could burn a lot of people out. We don’t expect runners to complete a marathon every day or month even. Why should you write a novel every month if it’s not realistic?

          Instead, write out goals that you can easily reach and slowly add more (words, sketches, what have you) once you’re comfortable in that range. Or you could do reverse planning: start a have-done list along with or instead of your to-do list, writing out what you got done after you did it and then adding a checkmark. You still have to get work done to get a checkmark, but you don’t have the stress of seeing an unchecked item on your list.

  • Take a break when you feel overwhelmed.

          The work will always be there when you get back. It’s not going anywhere, and you’re not going anywhere if you drive yourself into a brick wall. Tough love from your friend, here.

  • Don’t ignore your mental health.

Seek treatment as needed, take breaks as needed. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

  • Restock the creative pond (consuming art in its many forms.)

          You can’t fill a teacup from an empty teapot. The same concept applies to your work/creative life. If you don’t nurture your brain, you’re going to get stuck in a rut and produce rubbish work.

  • Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t reach a goal or meet an expectation.

Aren’t we all great at self-sabotage? Obsessing over what we think we’ve done wrong instead of what we’ve done right. And while I’m talking about beating ourselves up, here are a few “rolled newspapers” we use that we ought to set aside:

          – Checking our KDP dashboard too often

          – Reading reviews with the intention of rubbing our noses in it

          – Paying too much attention to how many reviews and ratings we             have

          Stop. Just stop. It’s not healthy and it isn’t going to produce more work or sell more books/paintings/etc. Sure, you should check when you’re experimenting with a sales tactic, but even then be realistic about checking things.

  • Stop comparing yourself to other creatives.

Their journey is as unique to them as yours is to you. Stop trying to walk in their size four shoes when you’re a size eight!


Are you feeling on your way to a burnout? What are some ways you can help yourself right now?

Keep your nose in a book,

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