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How Constantly Creating can Lead to Creative Burnout

Every bone in my body runs off creative adrenaline, and in my college years, I began to hone in on what I truly was passionate about—writing. But knowing that I was passionate about writing didn’t mean that my creative juices stopped flowing.

Even after writing my first book, I was still constantly brainstorming other creative ventures. At one point, I wanted to take my words and make greeting cards out of them. Then I had this idea to put my quotes on shirts. I wanted to make fancy mugs or design my words on pillowcases. My love for making things was growing day by day, and the thoughts were endless.

I started focusing on health and wellness and launched an all-natural apothecary shop where I make products like face toners and perfume oils. Sounds like nothing, right? Well, in the midst of doing this, I also had just started writing my second book, which was a completely different genre from my first book. I went from writing essays and poems to writing fiction. If you don’t know anything about writing fiction, just know that it requires a lot of effort, diligence, and most importantly, time.

So now I had two big projects going on. And then guess what? Even more ideas started flowing through my mind!

I decided I wanted to start a blog. One can never do too much writing, right? So I took on the task of running a small business, writing a novel, and starting a blog—and did I forget to mention that I was also working three different jobs in the midst of all of these new projects?

Then it gets crazier. I got an amazing opportunity to speak at Harvard University and run a self-care workshop. I was super scared, but I also knew this was something that I needed to do. So on top of all the projects I had on my plate, I went and added a speaking event as well. I thought the process was going to be smooth and easy, but the next thing I knew, I started crashing and so did my projects.

One thing I’ve learned as a creative entrepreneur is that ideas deserve to be nurtured. Our ideas are like seeds; once we plant one, we must give it the attention it needs by watering it, watching over it, and protecting the growing new project so that it doesn’t wither away. My problem was that I had planted too many seeds. I should have given myself the space and time that I needed to figure out how I was going to nurture all of my creative thoughts. Instead, I jumped right into everything without thinking it through, and it led me to creative burnout.

I ended up having to put my store on pause because my mind was in too many places at once. I couldn’t focus on making products, shipping them, or marketing the store because I was so drained from all the editing that I was putting into my book. On top of that, I would come home from work exhausted, only to remember that I had to find time to execute and plan a workshop because I was only given a month to prepare for it. Everything felt like it was crashing down on me, and I learned that constantly creating isn’t always a good thing.

People like us are so wired to produce, and our culture has taught us that success equals productivity. However, creating is a beautiful practice that deserves tender, loving care. I’m not telling you that it’s bad to have an abundance of ideas, but that there is a time for everything. Rushing into something just because it was a thought is bad business. When we rush, it’s often not until we execute the idea that we realize we didn’t fully think things through. And pretty soon, we find ourselves struggling—and searching for an exit strategy.

Here are some signs that you may be headed towards creative burnout:

  • Lack of motivation when starting your work
  • Lack of interest or pleasure in work that once excited you
  • Second-guessing or doubting your work
  • Inability to focus on tasks or execute them
  • Being annoyed by new opportunities
  • Isolation
  • Needing substances to help you focus

So no matter how many ideas you have, know that it’s okay to slow down. The creative projects that you’re truly meant to do can wait until the time is right.

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