No Longer Burned Out

But seriously, though, when a person does creative work for living, one can never afford the luxury of 'feeling burned out' or 'be unmotivated', let alone have the dreaded 'art block', 'writer's block', etc.  Life keeps going and that means bills keep coming. XD    Over the years, I've learned that real professionals in any field do not complain about such things as 'loss of mojo' or blocks, but they manage to work through these things and get things done, done well, and done on time.  I can tell you for sure that my output has been a lot higher than when I was an 'undeclared' artist (= hobby artist).   Once I began making regular income from art, I have managed to focus my mind to get the work done ... however grudgingly at times. lol

2014 brought a crazy fast growth in my business and I was barely able to keep up with the demand.  Things were going well until around the holiday time.  With the uninspiring news about the EU digital VAT at the end of the year, and the mass confusion and hours of research looking for straight answers, came the feeling of just being burned out.  If the world was a perfect place, every artist's job would be purely to create works of art and that's all we'd ever have to do.  All other related-but-not-so-fun aspects of business can be delegated to professionals.  Well, for a large portion of us, the so-called 'self-represented artists', the reality is that we have to wear so many hats.  We are an artist, wife/husband, mother/father, chauffeur, coach, homework helper/tutor, advertising executive, blogger, photographer, accountant, PR specialist, copyright manager, housekeeper, etc. etc.  The list keeps going.  So I'm not going to be too hard on myself when I say I felt burned out.

Waking up feeling happy, thinking about what project I'll be working that day, used to be the every day thing.  Once the burnout struck me, I suddenly felt tired and couldn't get out of the bed as early as I used to.  Easily distracted, and nothing I sketched looked good enough.  That's a bad place to be, and I was fully aware that I had to intervene somehow.  Luckily, I had a lot of simple-but-tedious "busy" work relating to my business piled up through 2014 to keep working on.  When I can't get into the mood to tackle a new and fantastic piece of art, I keep myself at it by taking care of little things - like new listings, cleaning up files for publications, sorting sketches by priority and types, etc.

I've been feeling the need to get back to my roots.  To do the type of work I want to do, not what I get asked to do.  To do the type of work that I find personally meaningful, not what I think will sell or appeal to the broader audience.  I'm always thinking about ways to maximize my productivity by balancing my interest with the business potential of a project.  I try to keep level headed about it to keep feeling healthy, but there are times when some external force (be it a critique or a sudden financial necessity) would nudge me off balance, and I have to reevaluate and adjust.

The first 3 months of 2015 have been a string of events that I would have rather not dealt with.  At times, it almost made me feel like stop dealing with a line of my business.  But the good news is that by going back to the doodler roots of mine, I was able to get out of the rut of the vague feeling of blue.   I've always been a person who can see joy in simple and small things.  I've been saved out of this rut by a tiny pencil scribble on a scrap paper I was using for notes and reminders.  The idea of this doodle has been expanded and turned into a full illustration.  And I've taken the sketch and turned it into an elaborate digi design as well.  The little scribble expanded to include my love for the cat I just recently lost, the yearning for the cherry blossoms in my home country of Japan, and a walk down the memory lane for the delightful folklore of my childhood, and so many more wonderful things.

And just like that, with one quiet, productive afternoon alone with my doodle, I no longer feel burned out.  I'd love to show the line illustration I finished yesterday, but that'll have to wait till mid April at a showcase on the AW Showcase Blog.


  1. I am glad you are feeling better.

  2. I am happy you feel better and I love your recent drawings, looking forward to your next one, lots of hugs and love, Marion


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