Creative Fatigue & Fireworks

I need to get something off my chest, something that’s been on my mind. Creative fatigue is it’s name and no fun is it’s game.

I create for a living, aside from this little corner of the internet of mine. I create for other brands, my clients, so not only do I create for a hobby, I do it for the £££ too.

Do anything for the majority of your waking hours and you reach saturation real quick & boy did I hit that saturation point about 3 weeks ago and since then I have felt frustrated beyond belief.

Currently I write this blog, I contribute to two others with an average post length of 750 words each, I write monthly content for 3 brands, which I’ve worked out is; 90 Facebook posts, 360 tweets & 90 Instagram posts, not to mention the ad hoc ones that crop up, add to that 6-10 client blog posts per month and we’re talking a shit tonne of content.

As with my blog, I push myself month in month out to create content that is better, better, better than the month before, and it’s an expectation of clients too. They want to disrupt the industry, they want to be stand out, to be experts, to be more, more, more. This all leads to a head that is full of ideas almost to the point that my brain feels like it’s drowning.

creative fatigue

I wasn’t sure what was happening to start with, writing that would take me just a few hours was dragging into a few days. I found myself with fingers hovering over the keyboard, eyes darting across the screen searching for inspiration and many  cups of coffee made to keep me awake whilst I worked my ass off late into the night in the vain hope that darkness would bring with it the words and creativity I needed.

Then whilst scanning Medium, I came across this post by Nathalie Sejean, and the opening paragraphs epitomised everything that I realised I was feeling…

“Maybe creativity came easy to you. You could tap into it, people would praise you about it, and you never really questioned what made you creative and if it could ever stop.

And then maybe one day you woke up to realise you had lost your way to your creativity. Nobody ever mentioned that was a possibility and yet here you were, feeling dry inside, with a knot in the stomach, and fearing someone would realise you were no longer creative.

Maybe you thought it was gone and over.

Maybe you thought you had been a fraud all those years and that it was time to retrieve back into ‘normalitude’.”

I cannot tell you what relief I felt realising that if other people write about the same feelings as me, that means I’m not alone and creative fatigue is a real thing.

creative fatigue

Whilst at the fireworks this weekend just gone I stood in awe staring up at the sky, impressed at the awesomeness of each firework not thinking the previous one was any less simply because the one that follows is also incredible.

Whilst posting my favourite photo of the night on Instagram it got me to thinking that fireworks are right up there with some of my favourite things, all that energy and effort for a moment of glory & sometimes that’s what social media is for me, so much energy goes into the photos I take and edit, the words I write and the time I take to develop relationships, but as with fireworks as soon as one moment has past it’s all about the next, next, next & once they’re all over the silence feels all consuming.

I never really understood creative burnout, I always thought it was something that only happened to musicians who toured the world for years at a time, but actually it creeps up much quicker and easier than you think.

However, whilst musing on this eternal search for more and better I was reminded of something my dad used to say to me “Fast, good, cheap. Pick two ‘cos that’s all you’re getting” and it’s worth remembering that.

If you want something fast and done well, it will cost you. If you want something done well and cheap, it’ll take time and if you want fast and cheap, you’ll surrender the good.

Going forward this is something that I am going to hold fast to, when talking to clients, when creating blogs of my own, when living life in general!

creative fatigue

It’s hard to always be looking to the next, the new, the future, and when you find yourself like I did, living both my work life and my personal life that way, something has to give and in my case it was my wellbeing, health and happiness. Two things i’ve never really worried about, but two things I realised really mattered to me when they were in peril.

So what’s the plan I hear you ask? The plan is this. Stop.

  1. Stop from time to time, in life and work, having down time allows for creativity to build which can only be a good thing.
  2. Take things at a slower pace. Just because someone else is pushing you to go faster, more more more, doesn’t mean you have to and for me that means marking clear lines in the sand for my clients. If it’s time for me to focus on their work they will have my attention, outside of that they won’t, and they will have to wait
  3. Listen to my body and mind when it says it’s struggling. When I am running out of words to write, take a bit of brain space which will mostly involve having a coffee and getting some fresh air.

If you are struggling with creative fatigue you are not alone, reach out and chat to others that you work with, or friends and just the act of explaining how you feel out loud might just be the thing you need to make you feel better.

4 Comments

  1. 8th November 2017 / 7:08 am

    Hi Emma-Louise, feeling for you and sending you a lot of virtual hugs! I’m glad the article resonated with you, I applaud your honesty, and I definitely support your decision to take a step back and pause 🙂 I found out that small incremental steps was a very efficient solution. I look forward to discovering where your journey from now on will take you, and please feel free to reach out if you just want to share what’s going on! Have a beautiful day, nathalie

    • 8th November 2017 / 7:45 pm

      Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. The post really did stick with me from the first time I read it. I may just be in touch to chat a little more about it! Take care, thank you again, Emma

  2. 8th November 2017 / 7:36 am

    I know what you mean…the first time you do something, you think its ace, then you do it again and you think you could do it better, and the third time you do it, it doesn’t always feel that creative – I certainly felt that over the years I was writing music. It gets frustrating. You start to systematise your creativity and you end up with a. ‘style’. Listen to any album of music and you’ll know what I mean. In the end it feels like cheating.

    Strangely I don’t feel that about film, I think that might be because one needs less talent, or maybe a different kind of talent or talents.

    Anyway, I feel your pain. Don’t beat yourself up, just do something different for a while.

    • 8th November 2017 / 7:46 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment Chris, really does mean so much to me when a blog post resonates with someone reading my blog. I totally agree with the music/album thing!

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