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The Aftermath

I don’t know what burnout feels like for most people, but I know how it manifested in me.

I quit drawing for about two years. I quit digital art altogether. I was still doing covers for books here and there, but whenever I approached the computer I was filled with gut-churning dread, and my mind roiled with mental static. I’m not exaggerating, nor am I trying to make it all sound more dramatic than it was. It was an absolute struggle for me to do computer graphics, a struggle I often lost. It didn’t get better over the nine years since then, either.

This was not lost time for me. I didn’t understand what had happened, but eventually I rediscovered my love of drawing, pen-and-ink art, and watercolor. Now that I was doing art for me and my own projects, I became a born again traditional artist. I don’t think I’ve ever reached or surpassed my digital art abilities with traditional mediums, but I get closer all the time.

When did I turn the corner? I’m not sure, but it was pretty recent. I new there was a problem, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. ADHD? PTSD? Nope and nope. It wasn’t until I stumbled into some articles about burn out that I put it all together. As I studied, I realized that I fit the profile of a burn out, that there was no longer any question of it.

I decided I was going to break this cycle. I would have been all right without digital art–indeed, now I had traditional art. But, my digital abhorrence extended into website authoring and self-promotion. After the underwhelming sales of my first two novels, I new I had to dig back into promotion and websites. I mean, if no one was reading my books, why write them? Why not simply entertain myself with my own stories? Why write them down and try to take them to the world?

Now in 2023, I’ve begun digital art again. Most of it is for fantasy mapping and heraldry. Digital really fits this more mundane tasks. I don’t intend to go back to comics, because that’s a bit of a dead end scene, but never say never. Maybe a great idea will hit me, who knows. Probably not, though.

So, that’s it. I have no revolutionary ideas for healing burnout. I can say that once I identified the problem, I felt much better and slowly began to recover. I guess if any lesson is to be gleaned from this experience, then it is to avoid getting burned out in the first place. Take days off, spend time with family, read and travel to expose yourself to new ideas and places. The conundrum is this–if you want a career in the arts, you really can’t take time for yourself and your mental well being.

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