NoRights Podcast: S2E30 – Dealing with Creative Burnout

  • On August 12, 2013 ·
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Today we look at the problem of creative burnout. Just what is burnout? To me, burnout is a lack of passion or energy to do what you feel you should or need to accomplish

Identifying Burnout

Ask yourself honest questions and give honest answers

Am I tired of this project as a whole?

Am I tired with it’s execution or something else I can retool to work better?

Chuck Close on Artist Block

The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.


Merlin Mann – Kick Procrastination’s Ass: Run a Dash


Dealing with Burnout

Identify the burnout and where it’s coming from

Change something

Either scrap the whole project, rework something that isn’t working, or work on something else – just get working

Take time to get inspired

Remember why you started this kind of work in the first place

Go watch a movie, see a play, read a book, something unrelated to what you do


6 Days to Air: The Making of Southpark


Best Practices and Habits

Go to sleep/get up early/regularly

Remember to eat breakfast and regular meals

Separate your work space from your living space

Give yourself time where you’re supposed to be at work and times you’re supposed to be relaxing

I don’t turn instant message apps on until I’m done for the day. It’s inviting distraction and even if nobody’s on you’ll be waiting for it

Take breaks – sometimes time to grab juice and a cookie, sometimes working on a whole other project

Need downtime from working on one thing? Work on something else. You don’t have to finish each project in one solid burst



When I was in art school I didn’t take time to plan my assignments because they came to me. I was an efficient little worker drone but when you work by yourself you need to actively decide what to work on and keep yourself busy. It’s very easy to fall into a slump of only drawing one thing a day or as few things as are expected of you

Take time to make drawings for you that nobody else will see. Enjoy the process, the discovery, and don’t ever fear making these drawings perfect. You can always rework a drawing and it’s perfectly fine to do that until you’re happy

Exercises for Drawing

Gesture drawing

Life drawing



Character design/doodling