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.
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.)