At the end of 2013 I was well and truly fed-up with being creative. I never thought I would ever feel that way since starting up my own creative business in 2011. I had just completed a Creative Business support programme in 2010 and I was ready to start on my own, building on all the things I’d learned throughout the previous year.
To cut a long story short, I spent the next couple of years working on my product ranges, developing my illustrative style, gaining stockists, forming solid working relationships with other creatives and collaborating as and when I could. I was applying to, and getting accepted for the shows and fairs I had previously aspired to and I was generally feeling really good about how things were panning out.
But things took a bit of a down turn. After a less than successful second trade fair where I made a bit of a blunder with my new range and then a few selling events when I barely covered my costs, I began to falter. I lost my confidence and drive and found that I was starting to dread the weekends when I would have to pack up my whole studio into those blue IKEA bags, haul it all to the next fair and bring most of it back home again at the end of it. I was losing the sparkle and enjoyment of something I had previously loved and it was making me question WHY I was doing it and whether I even wanted to continue.
Around about this time my other job was also providing me with my fair share of challenges and with Christmas looming I also had the general busy-ness of the good old festive season to deal with and a seemingly endless list of things to do. I strongly believe that sometimes life is like juggling a set of balls, there are only so many you can keep in the air at one time without dropping one. With this is mind I knew something had to give and I decided to spend some time away from the business to preserve my sanity!! And so my creative break or sabbatical began! You can read all about it here in these three blog posts which I wrote at the end of 2013…
So I had time away, did some of the things that I set out to do in this blog post (doing more sketching, taking my sketchbook out and about with me, taking an e-course and an painting workshop etc) and just like that things started to change . I slowly started to get my enthusiasm back. I met up with a Design Factory colleague which made me feel a lot better when we went over my wish list I had in 2011 when I first joined Design Factory and I was happy to realise I had achieved nearly all of the things I had set out to do.
Having had my own creative break, which yes, I admit, I was fortunate enough to be able do, and now feeling like I’m back there are a few things I have learned that I wanted to share:
Like everything else, creativity has its ups and downs, embrace both, they are both part of the journey
There’s nothing wrong with taking time out – pushing yourself on through times of low motivation can sometimes do more harm than good – know your limits. Even if you can spare a day away, it’s better than nothing.
Time away gives you great perspective – and that is something that I carry through other areas of my life too. When you run a creative business you ARE the business and sometimes you are too close to it to see things clearly. Having time away and doing something completely different can help you gain clarity and perspective
Everyone needs time off – and coming to realise and accept that makes it a whole lot easier to do. Don’t give yourself a hard time about it. You’re not a failure, just normal.
Talking to other creative people really helped me – it’s great to get the perspective of others. Surrounding yourself with positive and understanding people makes such a difference and can even help banish your negative feelings and pull you back up again.