How to Overcome Creative Block + Avoid Burnout

Are you feeling uninspired and struggling with burnout?

Creativity is a wonderful thing. Like taking a break from the real world, it allows you to get caught up in your own vision and thoughts. A form of escapism that can result in works of art, dreamy images and innovative ideas.

What happens though when you run into a creative block or start to approach burnout?

Those weeks that just blur together in a haze of frustration, lack of motivation and very tall brick walls.

If you work in a creative industry I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. I’ve spoken with a lot of photographers and writers who’ve run into creative blocks and most of them feel exactly the same. The urge to create is strong but there’s a constant doubt cloud that hovers over every idea, every image and every word.

While there are no doubt a number of factors that contribute to getting a little stuck creatively, I’ve found one major player has for me personally been a big drain on creative thinking.

Social media.

Scrolling through images on Facebook or Instagram, most taken in landscapes and destinations you dream of being in at that very moment creates pressure. Pressure to be there, take those shots and compete with a world of talent that’s visually evident the moment you open those social platforms.

Of course there are benefits to a constant stream of visual media, it can in turn be inspiring, motivating and creatively uplifting but sometimes it can also get a little too much.

The need to keep up with algorithms, engagement, likes, comments and a curated gallery of goodness, sometimes the best thing to do once in a while is switch off.

Switch off your phone, your laptop, your television, your tablet…switch off and get outdoors.

To break down your creative block it’s about changing things up. Staring at your computer and waiting for the words to type themselves or the camera to take a photo just won’t make it happen.

SNEAKY EBOOK PROMOTION – I’ve published ‘The Photographer’s Handbook to Creative Vision‘, a downloadable 60 page PDF with tips and challenges to help you develop and grow as a photographer!

A few ideas that have helped me out of creative blocks are below…hopefully if you’re reading this and are stuck in a rut they’ll help you too.

Get Outdoors:

Fresh air works wonders for the mind and your mood. If you’re a photographer, leave your camera at home and just go for a hike, soak in the scenery and let your eyes see the world without a lens. After a few walks you’ll probably find the urge to take your camera along with you and hopefully then you’ll start to see new ways to capture the world that seemed near impossible before.

Change up your Work Space:

If you are working from home and get distracted by the TV, family, friends or just get so comfy on the couch that you’re in a constant nap mode, change it up. Find a café to sip hot chocolates while you write, a co-working space filled with freelancers in the same boat as you, or my favourite, your local library. There’s something about being surrounded by bookshelves that makes me write much more efficiently than anywhere else, and the best part, the unspoken rule that everyone has to be quiet (it doesn’t mean you can’t have a Pitch Perfect riff-off happening in your earphones)!

Watch Sunrise or Sunset

Okay so the sunrise part is not for those who love to sleep (me!) but every once in a while changing your morning routine will have a positive effect on your day. Even better if you can watch the sun rise over the sea. Being by the water completely opens my mind and it’s where I do most of my thinking. Personally if I watch the sunrise I’m super motivated until about 11am and then I hit a wall and need a nap…but I’ve heard coffee is good too!? That’s where sunset comes in…if you’re more of a night owl and work better once the sun goes down, make the sunset your sunrise and let it kick you into gear.

Read the guide to photographing Golden Hour here and let those rays refresh you!

Plan a trip

Hopefully if you’re reading this site you’re into travelling which I’ve found to be one of the most effective ways to overcome a creative block. Seeing a new landscape, culture, city or even experiencing a new cuisine can work wonders towards breaking down your creative block. Even taking a weekend trip close to home will work, just go somewhere you’ve never been to reset your creative mind. There’s always a stop on the train or bus that you’ve never got off at, or that road you’ve never driven down…see what’s at the end. Start browsing through the library of destination guides on this site and see if you can find somewhere close to home, or further afield to start planning a trip.

Stop Scrolling Social Media

A massive energy drainer, social media has the potential to unravel any good work we’ve done in trying to get inspired again. Scrolling endless streams of content can lead to thoughts of, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’ll never visit these places’, or general feelings that everyone else is living amazing lives while you’re just feeling meh. The reality is, social media is simply somewhere we can connect with others, but more often than not, people are presenting their best sides, not the full picture. You can ask many photographers on Instagram and I can almost guarantee they’ll say they feel burnt out a little too.

Read a book

Go old school and flick through the pages of a book. Preferably a picture book where you can stare at the photos without the need to double tap or comment. Find a book that relates to something you’re passionate about; photography, art, planes, gardens…whatever it is and just spend some time without your phone flicking through the pages.

Once you find your creativity again, try limiting the amount of time you spend on social media in order to black out the noise and focus on your own projects.

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Blog Comments

Definitely agree with getting outside, do you ever contemplate changing careers or photography styles?

I have moments where I do question what direction I’m heading but photography for me is always the career I come back to it’s just a matter of making it work and staying motivated 🙂

It’s nice to know this happens to other people, sometimes I just don’t feel like picking up my camera!

Totally with you there! Because it’s a creative outlet sometimes you just won’t feel like it and that’s completely fine…just let it pass and I’m sure you’ll be reaching for your camera in no time!

Great suggestions! Traveling number 1 does it for me. Now, to find enough clients to make that happen more often. Also, Sunrises have been life changing. Although for some reason, Im never able to get up for them when im home. Its another story when I am traveling, its a struggle at first but I always find enough oomph to get up when I tell myself I want to. Don’t no what thats about. Finding an interesting place for inspiration (sunrise) in a small town is hard, and I have not a clue how to find the areas maybe I dont know about.

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