During the summer of 2012, I decided to make a short documentary about my hometown fire department instead of taking an internship at an ad agency like many of my peers. I was excited to pick up my camera and share my perspective of the world that we live in. However, I soon found it more challenging than I expected.
I soon found myself super frustrated with the process of bringing this film to life. I had about 16 hours of footage that I needed to cut down into something that people would find entertaining and engaging. It took me weeks to edit this film and bring it to life. It wasn't long before I found myself cynical and frustrated with the process.
A few months had gone by and I was putting the finishing touches on the film and I found myself burned out and exhausted. I remember flying back to Richmond to finish my masters degree feeling extremely discouraged. This was something that I used to love and now I didn't want anything to do with it.
This has been something that I've had to deal with. Over the last several years I have had to find ways to motivate myself to pick up my camera and sit down in front of Adobe Premiere or After Effects and ultimately bring something to life.
It has not been easy. There were many times where I would much rather be doing something else instead of shooting or editing. I have found that there were many times where just the thought of making a film was crippling. I would try and do anything to avoid shooting and editing. As time passed, this feeling only got worse and it felt like I couldn't escape this feeling even though my entire career was predicated on making things.
Burnout is a very real thing and it doesn't get the attention it deserves. I have found it is incredibly toxic and incredibly dangerous for any creative person. It is far too easy to go from loving what you do to resenting it. I also find it super discouraging to see a creative person lose that excitement that helped them get where they are today. The most disheartening thing, in my opinion, is the have the desire to make stuff but feeling burned out and unmotivated. Seeing someone's creative voice be crushed is painful to watch. It sucks even more when it is your own creative voice.
It may seem like I'm rambling right now so let me just get to the point. If you are a creative person why did you start making stuff? What made you pick up a paintbrush or start playing the guitar. Why were you drawn to these things when you started? I think this is extremely important to think about, especially when things get hard. At some point, our creative endeavors and aspirations go from just a hobby and develop into something much more important. It is absolutely critical that we remember why we got into the game and find time to reflect on this because if the creative spark goes out it can be pretty hard to get it started again.
Living a creative life is a choice. It is something that requires discipline and is something that requires that you are comfortable with your own doubt. It is perfectly ok to question things at times. Many of the best creatives have been in this position. It is a messy process, but it's the only way that we can ultimately share our perspective and thoughts with people.
Take a moment to make something for yourself. It doesn't have to anything crazy. It doesn't have to be anything revolutionary or world changing. It's the process of just making work for ourselves that can restart the fire and remind us why we ultimately started making stuff in the beginning.
Start off 2018 by giving yourself the permission to be creative and dream again. I will promise you will be surprised where it takes you.