burnt out

What to do when you’re creatively burnt out

I am crispy. I am burnt out. I am tired.

I have had a very creatively busy summer, and I am grateful.

I put “World’s Greatest Dad(?)” up and have taught my ass off and I have enjoyed it. I actually don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I have done lately, and for someone who can be a bit work-anorexic, I’ve realized that there is a part of me that actually enjoys working that much.

But, as you know, us creative types can only run so long on fumes until the light goes on in the car that says the tank is empty and you are out of gas.

I wish I felt inspired to write about improv, or my life, or anything that you might find mildly helpful. I don’t have that for you.

All I know is I wanted to feel connected to you. And the thought of re-running an old blog just didn’t feel right. I’ve done that the last couple weeks and I wanted to write something.

I know this feeling will be temporary if I take care of myself and take a short little breaks to recharge the batteries. To fill the well up again.

This is what I am trying to do right now. But apparently I am not succeeding because I am still typing on my lap top.

So, if you have any suggestions on what kinds of things you can do to feel inspired again when you feel creatively burnt out, I could really use that now.

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5 replies
  1. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I honor you honesty and authenticity. Thank you for showing up exactly as you are. Your burnt-outness is welcome here!!

    In response to your request (not sure if it was rhetorical, but too late!) what comes to mind are things that you encouraged me with in class

    “what do you WANT to do?”
    “What would be FUN?”
    “Follow your instincts”

    It sounds like you’ve given a lot and expended a lot of energy, and maybe it’s time to rest and spend time receiving. What does that look like for you?

    Where are you creatively fed and nourished? I think Julia Cameron has some good ideas in her “Artist’s Way” book with morning pages and Artist Dates.

    For me- I can’t force myself to be “inspired”. If I’m burnt out, I don’t have the creative energy to concoct ideas for inspiration. And it also feels as if “burnt out” is a problem I need to fix, instead of honoring and listening to the information and space it is giving me to connect with myself and my needs. I kind of just have to wait and see what happens and let inspiration come while I’m doing other things, or nothing. Laying in bed watching my favorite shows or movies. Spending time with friends. Allowing myself to be supported, held, and heard by those that care about me. Allowing myself to be grumpy and complain. And perhaps actually forbidding myself from doing anything creative for a time, to take the pressure off and rebuild trust with myself.

    I’m thinking about all of the times I was depressed and uncomfortable in class and was able to use that energy in a scene and then often something magical and transformative happened. I wonder if you can just show up as burnt out- actually, you did! you wrote this blog post! yay!

    Also- a funny thought just hit me- I wonder what it would look like to amplify this feeling of being burnt out (another thing you taught me in class) That thought makes me laugh! How could I play at being MORE burnt out? What is the embodiment of burnt-out look like? I think I would be laying on the floor being angry and whiny. Or shouting at people about how burnt out I was. Ha HA!

    Well- you inspired me to laugh today from your burnt out state and lack of inspiration. And you inspired me to give back to you some of the amazing things you have taught me. Thank you!

    Wishing you radical self care and quality rest and relaxation.

  2. John
    John says:

    Relax a bit; take a nap. Check out some movie, show, book that you usually wouldn’t have time for. And if it catches your interest for praise or criticism let us know. I read your blog and share it with others. Thanks for all the good work.

  3. Michael G
    Michael G says:

    1. Don’t do anything improv-ish for a few days.
    2. Do something visual like a visit to the Art Institute.
    3. Go someplace wooded like a forest preserve and hang out for an afternoon.
    4. Hang out on the lakefront.
    5. Get a massage.
    6. Find and use a steamroom.
    7. Drink a few Mexican cokes (with real sugar, not the US corn syrup ones) and scarf down some chocolate

    Actually forget all the above and find somebody to help (outside of improv.) And I was just kidding about forgetting the first 7 items. They’re vital to ending burnout.

  4. Craig Price
    Craig Price says:

    Time With Betsy!
    I have heard you talk many times about how that fills up your creative cup as well as the need to be the WGD.

    I am craving time with my kids after teaching improv to everyone else’s kids all summer.
    I might just take some time off and hang out in a bin of Lego bricks.

    Thanks for all you do Jimmy!

  5. Maggie
    Maggie says:

    Llove your blog, so cool I found it!
    Regarding the burnout – what worked for me was doing nothing related to what caused the burnout for as long as needed. You will know when the end of the burnout is near- you will want to do stuff again!
    Now if your bills depend on what caused the burnout, then what did it for me was finding a temporary job just until I charge back the creative levels. I worked nothing creative for half a year and now I randomly sketch/draw and have spontaneous creative ideas just like before.

    ~ Peace be with you ~


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