The Dark side of being ‘Creative on Demand’
Creatively burning out is something many if not all creative types go through, whether admitting it or not to themselves, their bosses, or their fans. It’s the dark side of being a creative individual and one that makes a profession of their creativity. I’ve felt this burning out before and that was how I recognized it when it crept up on me again. The first time I experienced it I recognized it as a writer’s block, but the truth is a burning out can lead to a writer’s block, but it can also lead to someone no longer wanting to be creative because they’re simply empty. No ideas manifest, no artworks work, nothing moves it all halts, stalls, and then slowly dies. During my writer’s block my husband said something to me that affected me greatly. He said, ‘You’re not happy. You’re not the woman I married because she was creative, she loved it, but you’re unhappy and you’re not creating.’ He didn’t know how to help me and I didn’t even know how to help me.
I wanted to write at first, just couldn’t get the ideas out. It was frustrating to say the least. I felt I had already peaked. It was a horrible time for me and it lasted years. When my creativity began to slowly go away a second time, like I said earlier, I recognized it. Frustrated in myself, not even taking the very good advice that I’d give out to those who are new or ‘green’ coming in. I wasn’t working on my own things, I’d peck out a line or a word and that was it, and eventually just not have anything than a blank word document opened for hours, the little icon blink away to remind me I’d typed out nothing. I didn’t think much of it when this first little hint appeared. I dove into my graphics work even deeper, at least I could do that. I at least could make others happy with my covers, my media, and my creations.
That dive helped for a while, but even then, I started to see my creative burning out dripping into this side of my world. I’d lose focus. It’s very difficult to work on deadlines, at least for me, when I cannot perform at a level I felt I was at, but it was all a secret. A secret suffering. Authors were happy, contracts were fulfilled, and everyone and thing kept moving forward on or before schedule. When you work closely with others and everyone’s under-pressure sometimes you forget everyone else is going through something and for me, I felt most sensitive about things.
The saying goes, ‘If you can’t take criticism you’re in the wrong business.’ It’s true, so true, and when I began getting hurt by words or performance I knew things weren’t working out for me because I’m not one to get upset by business. My approach has always been, if someone is saying something ‘oh well’. There will always be someone saying something, nothing can be done, and I’m not a therapist. I really don’t have a lot of time to hear this or that nor do I really want to if I want or need to stay on task and focused, but the creative drain was affecting me beyond not getting work done as quickly as before.
Yes, much was done and handled while I was running on fumes, the gas tank had already hit E and I was coasting toward a station without knowing where it was. That’s the best analogy I could come up with. I had wanted to share with contracts what I was going through, but when a staffer left at a certain location I thought, ‘shit’. It’d be bad timing. I didn’t want anyone to be angry at me or upset if I went on a vacation or just went away (because I wasn’t sure how to really handle things) I just wanted to write again, so again I began coasting along, but the thing I thought wasn’t being seen was being seen and after a small text sent it opened the door to a large conversation.
Before I continue, I must place somewhere, I suffer from almost chronic if not chronic anxiety. Most of the time, I have it in check and why most things aren’t going to bother me as they would without my supplements and help. At my worse, without meds, I second-guessed myself at every turn and drove my close friends I shared my woes with nuts.
With the large conversation, I realized who understood, and felt a lot better. My worries about a situation were really for nothing. I just wanted to write, and they understood that. My clients were very understanding about it. It’s been months since that conversation and the behind-the-door way we were going to handle things. I announced my stepping away/stepping down on the Darkness Dwells podcast, then Facebook, and then I’ve been openly talking about it. On Armcast, I shared that I would be having this post, most likely, already up by the time it aired, where I once more talk about it.
My desire to just write and not want to let anyone down I know is something I’m not alone in. I do know someone somewhere will read this or hear about it and comment that I simply ‘can’t hack it’ and to that I can say there is strength in admitting with things are going on. My creativity needs to refresh, I need my tanks refueled. When you work 6 out of 7 days for other authors and you are one, it will eventually happen if you were doing things the way I was. Everyone is simply different, some can deal with things better because they’re just able to, doesn’t mean I can’t hack it, just means I need to step back.
The journey to sharing more of myself started some time ago. Little bits of myself will trickle through, in a newsletter or in a social media post. I wanted to do this post to do just that. I don’t think I do it enough. When I realized what was going on with myself, I researching, like the writer in me does, and I came across an article about Burnout, Fatigue, and Overuse in Performing Artists. I pondered it, but still never thought the depth of it would have me later saying, ‘I can relate.’ Now I can say, ‘I can relate.’ Another article I came across was The Dark Side of Creativity: Burnout, but the one that sat in the most was Dealing with creative burnout.
So, with all of that I’ve said, the links I’ve shared, I am announcing once more in 2019, for my own creativity and needs to relax some I’m not going to be doing graphic arts. I don’t want to. As for the future of my work after this year, I do have plans, but those may even change. As soon as I announced it for the first time I already started feeling better and my writing has started coming back. I had so much I had started, but just didn’t continue, the weight being lifted I already can feel a change. I don’t ever want to let anyone down, but realistically I know I am. I do see a future where I’m working for other authors, but not in the coming up year. It just means watch out! I’ll be back.
In the meantime, I’ll be writing and publishing! I’ve announced so many things I’ll be pushing out with the time I’ll have taken from graphics. I do have an autobiographical work I’ve been fiddling with for years that will be coming out at some point along with other projects.