Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beating Beady Burnout

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Today I'd like to discuss something most artists experience. The state of total exhaustion following the completion of a large project, and the refusal of the body to continue working, in spite of the mind's best intentions.

That state? Burnout. For beaders, I call it Beady Burnout. It's a little bit like being stuck, only it's the inability to do one thing in particular, as opposed to anything at all. It's also a form of Creative Block.

For example, I've spent the past few weeks working on a beaded collar. This Wednesday I finished the bead embroidery stage, and now that I've glued the backing on, I'll be able to stitch my layers together, add fringe, and decide on the other components I'll use.

(And here's the collar so far!)

Thinking about the next steps in my project, I notice two different things going on. First, there's my mind going YAYYYY! BEADS!!! And then there's my body, slumping over into a pathetic little pile, whimpering.

How am I going to get my mind and body on the same page? I have a few ideas. Once again, I'm making this up as I go.

Beating Beady Burnout

1.) Recognize the burnout. It's one thing to be a little tired, but it's another thing to have Beady Burnout. Knowing the difference is important because burnout needs more aggressive treatment.

2.) Recognize what won't help. Before you dive right into what will help, it's a good idea to remind yourself that pushing yourself through your exhaustion won't. If you're a little tired or bored with a project, sometimes you can push through it and move on to something else, but ignoring Beady Burnout only leads to more slumping and whimpering. So don't do it.

3.) Pat yourself on the back. Beady Burnout is a pain, but it helps to put a positive spin on it. Why are you burnt out? Because you put a lot of time and effort and passion into a project, and you accomplished something amazing. So congratulate yourself for your hard work -- the feeling of pride will make the exhaustion easier to take.

4.) Clean your workspace. Sweep up those little scraps of thread, put your tools away, and store your beads in their rightful place. A clean work space means a fresh start. A chance to move on to a new project/phase in a project when you're ready.

5.) Step away from the beads. It's time to take a real break. To remove the temptation to start playing with beads before you're ready, choose to spend time in a room that isn't your studio or work space.

6.) Rest. Creative work uses up a lot of energy, physical and emotional. Take some time to relax, to nap, to do nothing, and know that not only have you earned this rest, but it's an essential part of the creative process.

7.) Rejuvenate. Drink plenty of water. Eat foods with lots and lots of nutrients. Take bubble baths. Listen to relaxing music. Stretch. Get a massage. Whatever you do to take care of yourself, do it with the attitude that not only have you earned it, but you need it.

8.) Explore the non-bead world. When you have a big project in the works, everything else falls by the wayside. Once you're rested, use Beady Burnout as a chance to do all the things you neglected. For me, this would be reading, writing, cooking, and hula hooping. One of the best things you can do is invite friends to do these things with you. That way, you can't back out!

9.) Start to miss beading. As you catch up on the other things in your life, you might find yourself wanting to bead. This is a sign that you're on your way to beating Beady Burnout, but unless the urge is overwhelming, don't give in until you've had at least 48 hours to recuperate. You want to make sure the burnout is really gone, but you also want to get your mind and your body excited, or even anxious, to bead. You know what they say: absence makes the heart grow fonder!

10.) Start planning to bead. After the 48 hours have passed, start reading beading books. Browsing Pinterest and Flickr for inspiration. Start planning a project or the next phase of a current one. Make sure it's something that captures your imagination and gets you itching to pick up your sparklies again (I call this state Beady Bliss, and it's the polar opposite of Beady Burnout).

11.) Go play! When you just can't stand it anymore, go back to those beads! See what happens. If it turns out that you're not completely over Beady Burnout, revisit some of the steps in this list until you're back to normal.

12.) An ounce of prevention. Once you're over Beady Burnout, and you've fallen in love with another project, there's a temptation to do the same things all over again -- to push everything else in your life aside and work, work, work until you collapse from exhaustion. I realize that for some people, myself included, this is just part of the creative process. And that's fine. But! There's nothing wrong with scheduling, say, 30 minutes a day to relax, pay attention to other areas in your life, and pamper yourself. A little bit goes a long way.

And that concludes my plan to beat Beady Burnout. I'm in the middle of step five, but I have to say, it's easier said than done -- I keep sneaking into the studio to trim the backing off the beadwork! I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Thanks for reading, and have a sequintastic day! Feel free to share your tips and tricks for beating artistic burnout of any kind!

(Also, make sure to check out Artists in Blogland.)

21 comments:

  1. Such a fun post! I hear you on the artistic burnout. :) I usually need a few days of no metal working and switch to a different medium.

    Your collar is LOVELY!!

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    1. Thanks!

      It really helps to work in more than one medium, doesn't it? I'm always grateful for multiple interests, but I'm especially grateful when I have burnout of any kind. :)

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  2. It is no wonder that you are burnt out with this amazing piece in the works. I actually think burnout give the mind time to rest and recoup and while sometimes its frustrating, it really opens up new ideas. xox Corrine

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    1. Aww, thank you, Corinne!

      I agree with you. Burnout is kind of like the mind's way of creatively rebooting. Maybe my time off will help me figure out how I'm going to finish this necklace!

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  3. Beautiful work Sarah! Thanks for the great tips! I find I work in a medium until I "burn out". Chainmaille, lampwork, silver fabrication. I work in one until I get tired of it then I work in another. I can't wait to see your project done!

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    1. Thanks, Melissa!

      I do the same thing as you, actually. It's so great to have multiple interests, isn't it? That way, there's less creative down time.

      Also, I keep meaning to ask -- how did your open house go last weekend?

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  4. Amazing piece!
    And I agree with your list. :)

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    1. Thanks! :)

      I'm glad the list resonated with you. It's definitely good for more than just beading.

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  5. This is quite amazingly stunning! But what a lot of yourself you've put into it;) Ever thought of picking up a paintbrush? !! ;)

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  6. Thanks, Emma!

    Actually, painting is one of the many things I've done, and several of my paintings look very much like the swirly patterns I use here.

    For some reason I haven't been able to rekindle my interest in painting, even though I used to love it so much. I'm sure I'll come back to it sooner or later, though. :)

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  7. First of all, I am AMAZED and stunned by the beauty that is that collar! So intricate and gorgeous. Secondly, your advice for burnout could be applied to any creative field, so that's awesome, too!

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    1. Thank you so much!!!

      I was looking for advice that was universal. I've had Writing Burnout and Painting Burnout before, too.

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  8. Great post, I'm sure the plan will work! Good luck finishing the collar - it looks absolutely stunning and I really can't wait to see the finished result!

    http://styleservings.blogspot.com/

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    1. I haven't followed it to the exact letter -- I forgot the hooping -- but what I've tried has worked! I've started working on the collar again, and I can't wait to show you! <3

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  9. Your post was very timely, just what I need. Can't wait to see your collar!
    Kepi Rasmussen

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    1. I'm glad I had such good timing! I'd love to know if my advice helps you get through your own Beady Burnout.

      It's definitely helped me. I started working on the collar, and another project, again recently. Of course, once I've finished these things, I'll probably need to revisit this list. :)

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  10. Wow, that's impressive, can't wait to see it finished! I envy people who are able to work at one project at a time :) For me the finishing step is the most difficult.. And I've learned not to push myself, which also prevents a burnout. Still have a handful of beaded stones in the to-do drawer, that need to have their thread ends tucked in first and then get a necklace or chain.. A handful of hammered shapes that are waiting for the right beads.. And a number of other projects going on :)

    When I'm stuck or burned out, I do the "work" - make earwires in advance, chain, findings. This helps to keep the hands busy while creativity can sit back and relax. Or inspect my "to-do" pile of stuff and sometimes get a spark :)

    I think that cleaning the workspace is THE most important! Minimize the clutter, hide the beads that have been laying there for ages. That's actually the first thing I do when I realize I'm getting stuck or start moving in circles. And photography helps me lots too.
    And if all else fails - get more beads! LOL

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    1. Thank you! It's almost done now, and I'm pretty happy with it. :)

      Awesome ideas for dealing with Beady Burnout! Doing the work portion is such a good point -- might as well do that stuff when you're not feeling creative, so when you are, you can jump right into the fun stuff.

      Buying more beads is a good point, too. I'm always looking for excuses to do that. ;)

      It's funny, I have a pile of unfinished projects and hammered shapes and whatnot, too. Do you have a special place where you keep them all? I've started keeping mine together in a box. Not sure it helps me finish them, but at least I know where they are!

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    2. Doing the "work" part in advance also helps to have some projects finished sooner, skipping the "to do" pile :)

      I've recently purchased this thing http://tinyurl.com/7odtyae to get rid of some boxes on top of boxes on top of boxes, so one drawer is exclusively for "halfway there" projects :)
      (btw this organizer is not much recommended for beads.. the drawers are starting to fall out as the plastic deforms from too much weight and the rims slip off their "tracks")

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  11. What a great post! It's so important for us creative types to try to avoid burnout. Getting out there and doing things outside the crafty world is a fabulous way to get those creative juices flowing again. Well timed too, I've been working like a mad fool getting ready for an art show. Remember gals, keep things in perspective! ;)

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    1. Tiffany, thank you so much for stopping by! I'm glad that my timing was good.

      Good luck with the art show! That sounds exciting, but very work-intensive.

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