Ever been driving down the highway so deep in thought that you go on autopilot and miss your exit? And then when you look around you have no idea where you are? That’s what happened to me recently—not literally—but with my work. I had been doing things without paying attention and I lost something in the process.
I’ve been in this situation before: once with my flower business, and a second time with my photography. I knew that I had to pause everything in order to avoid burning out. I knew that if I took a break I could come back with a better plan instead of giving up like I have before. [How about that? I’ve made progress!].
When I took a step back from it all and looked at what I was doing, it was easy to see what was wrong. Once again, I got stuck in the loop of chasing the sale. I was creating work that I thought people would want to buy. Even though I know better. Even though I know that it’s not the answer. Of course what I was creating was just okay. I wasn’t excited about it and neither was anyone else.
Okay… so the first step is admitting you have a problem. What’s next?
- Go back to basics. Focus on creating work that brings me joy.
- Reinforce the “why”.
- Be mindful. Remember to be fully present.
- Forget about the sale.
- Make mistakes. So… it’s not a masterpiece? Who cares? As Ken Robinson said:
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
As artists and creative entrepreneurs it’s important to pause and step back every now and then. By being mindful of what we are doing, why we are doing it, and making sure it fulfills us, we are more likely to avoid burnout. Creating for the wrong reasons is the quickest way to get sick of doing it.
The last thing we want is for our art to become a “job” in the ugliest sense of the word because then we can start to feel like there’s no point in creating anymore.
Taking a break helped me to adjust my plans and to re-focus (pun intended) my efforts. Now I am back at work; writing, drawing and creating photographs that mean something to me.