How To Reignite Your Creative Energy When You’re Feeling Burnt Out

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I’ve been staring at a blank page on my computer screen for 20 minutes, the blinking cursor taunting me. I’ve subconsciously picked up my phone and scrolled Instagram three times with no plan aside from the fact that I’m avoiding work. I see the irony in that I’m supposed to be touting how you can invigorate creativity while stuck at home when, in reality, I’m feeling more uninspired and unmotivated than ever before. I’ve been working from home for ten years—I know how to get my creative endorphins running while wearing yesterday’s sweatpants. The difference is now I’m home all the time! I have to squeeze my work into short intervals. I’m interrupted continuously by my husband’s meetings, my kids’ nagging for their eighth snack of the day (how did they survive at school?!). I have a sickening feeling that my life has become the movie “Groundhog Day.”

There’s also that little voice in my head whispering that I should be doing more, that I should be more creative. I know it’s nonsense and that this, of all times, is not one for added pressure. Seeing how many people are using this time to let their creativity shine is inspiring but also maddening. Yesterday, I hid into my bedroom closet (the only place to hide in my house) and had a good cry. I felt like a child having a meltdown, but it helped. How can I expect myself to thrive when I feel like getting through each day is a triumph? 

Despite all this, I know that this is a hurdle I will get over. We’re in our seventh week of quarantine and with no definitive ending in sight. I will get my creative mojo back, but it may take more work and conscious action than ever before. When I’m starting to feel burned out, here are the steps I take to reinvigorate my creative energy. I hope they help you, too! 

Be A Sponge

I keep telling myself that some years are for creating, and some are for consuming. Don’t force yourself to make things all the time, just for the sake of it. It will undoubtedly lead to burnout. I’m in a consumption phase right now, and I don’t mean buying things. I’m consuming information. I’m reading books, watching inspiring films, listening to podcasts, journaling my feelings and practicing the art of noticing (more on that later). I’m patient, reminding myself that I’m like a sponge, and I’m soaking up all of this creative material in the hopes that it leads to creative breakthroughs. Even if it doesn’t, I’m not going to regret having made time for it. I consider it research and personal growth.

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Make Space

After 10 years of working from home, I’ve found that the two most important things you can do to aid your creativity are:

1. Practice Self-Care
2. Create Space 

I’m referring to space both physically and mentally. On Glitter Guide, we’ve written about Joseph Campbell’s idea of a “Bliss Station” many times. It’s a space you create (preferably in your home) where you tune out external distractions (i.e., news, emails, texts, phone calls, etc.). It’s meant to act as a place of creative incubation. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Distraction is a real killer of creativity. I think this is one of the reasons I’m struggling. My Bliss Station has been hijacked. I feel uneasy. My goal is to recreate a space for me to feel like myself again. Even if it’s temporary and not ideally where I would want it. Think about your space and how you can turn a corner, window, office, deck, into your creative hub.

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When it comes to mental space, you may have to dig deep. We’re in a time of crisis. Some of us have lost loved ones, our jobs, our sense of the future. It’s not going to be easy to prioritize mental space for inspiration. I’ve found the easiest way to do that is to practice self-care. When I make time to fill my cup with things that feed my soul, I feel my creative spirit lift. Things like: reading, walking, exercise, dancing. Whatever works for you.

Stay Curious

This is similar to being a sponge, but still worth mentioning. When my creative spark is gone, I start writing notes on my phone about little things that I notice. I saw that Man Repeller started to recommend this, too. I’ve also read about this in The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday by Rob Walker. I will jot down funny things my kids say, the color of the flowers blooming in my yard, about the two lovebirds that return to our home every spring, etc. Little observations that help me stay curious and in the present.

The beauty of this is you can reference your notes and look for inspiration. It helps with art, writing, and a ton of other creative endeavors.

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Author: Taylor Sterling

Taylor Sterling is the founder and creative director of Glitter Guide. When she's not working on all things GG, she can be found reading and sometimes art directing photoshoots for @LolaJayne. She enjoys spending time with her family and eating french fries (not necessarily at the same time, although that's definitely the best combination). Follow her at @TaylorSterling