On Burnout and New Beginnings | Happy 2017

Hello there. It's been a while.

If you were following my 2016 Vlogmas videos and wondered why I suddenly dropped off the face of the earth, my deepest apologies. It would be easy to blame the busy season or the fact that I didn't start prepping for the month far enough in advance, but in all honesty, I have no excuse.

To put it simply, I just hit creative burnout.

This is something I've experienced a few times before, once when I tried a month long drawing challenge and another time when I spent two straight weeks frenetically writing chapters of a manuscript I still haven't finished. Back then, it felt almost like physically hitting a wall, like these projects were a rock that I'd brought so close to the top of the hill, only to have them roll back and crush me down.

Both of these previous burnouts left me unable to pick up a pen or even look at my computer for weeks. I remember reading a lot, listening to a lot of music, and vegging out at night with bad police procedurals on tv.

This Vlogmas-induced creative burnout, however, was different. Maybe this was a natural reaction to twenty plus straight days staring at my own face and trying to wrangle some sort of coherence and meaning out of my ramblings, but I couldn't force myself to make another video if my life depeneded on it. I normally feel some resistance to editing what I've filmed; maybe I just don't have a strong enough narcissistic streak to enjoy hours of listening to my own voice. This time, I couldn't even compel myself to prefilm footage to edit at a later date.

But where I was expecting to feel listless and disheartened, I discovered a real, intense desire to create. It's honestly been years since I've felt such strong creative inspiration and I've tried to let myself flow with that feeling. I've had a rash of new ideas that have me excited about writing and storytelling again and, for the first time in years, I found myself compelled to take another crack at poetry. It's probably not very good poetry as I don't have the patience to sit and craft something intricate, subtle, or polished. But it is a genuine rush of expressive energy, equivalent to Whitman's untranslatable, barbaric yawp.

Who knows, maybe I'll share it with you all one day.

So have I given up on creating videos? No; in fact, later this morning I plan on filming for the first time since December. But I also plan on cutting back on video content if that means being able to explore more varied avenues of creative expression.

Now, this might read like an entirely self-indulgent post, an overly-dramatic way of saying "I failed at Vlogmas because I wasn't feeling inspired." Maybe it is. But it is also my way of closing the chapter on 2016. Last year brought out both the best and the worst in people and I think that in times of turbulence when hope is very much a small, flicking thing, it is easy to lose your way creatively. It is easy to question what the heck we do anything for when the world seems like such a fractured and unhealable place.

At times like this, I think it is entirely appropriate to step back, to stop doing what you think you should be doing and take the time to get right with yourself. Take the time to sort yourself out so that when you get back to working, creating, or leading you can do so with fullness of intention and passion of spirit. Because in the coming years, we're going to need everyone, and especially those creators who are capable of making great, moving, and discussion-inspiring work to be at the top of their games.

Happy 2017, everyone.

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