Is this work worth my time? Am I getting appropriately compensated for my time, skills, and abilities? Do I actually enjoy working for this person, or working for this gig?
If you watch me, you may—or may not—have noticed that I rarely post art here. Or at least, rarely more than once every one or two months. If you have, you might think I just don’t draw often, or that I’m so busy doing other things, or that I have the dreaded-yet-commonplace artist’s block. That last one, I thought, was the case with me for the longest time.
Some say that the key to overcoming artist’s block is to just wait for inspiration. One reputable artist, amongst many, will tell you the it’s better to develop discipline, the ability to will yourself to draw, even if don’t feel like it. Like getting yourself to get yourself in those running shoes and start jogging, even though it’s so chilly outside and you want to stay in your warm, cozy bed. Which is good advice, unless you’re the type of person who employed discipline already, and used it to drive yourself for so long that, as if it were a drug, you’ve become so resistant to its presence that the effective dose is too toxic to be worth using.
There’s a term for that. When you’ve worked for so long and so hard that the work you once felt so much love for instead fills you with twice as much hate, when you would strike anyone within arm’s distance for urging you to keep going, when you feel like quitting would mean freedom rather than loss, that feeling is called “Burnout.”
To put it another way, if artist’s block is to an artist as wanting to stay in that cozy bed is to a runner, then burnout is to an artist as getting a stress fracture is to a runner, as though they tried to lift the block off the canvas and gave themselves a metaphorical hernia.
The problem with that comparison, though, is that it’s much easier to tell when you get a stress fracture than it is to tell when you get burnout. In my case, I now realize I’ve been suffering from burnout since 2009, when I was working on the fourth of the five volumes of The Iron Wizard. So, while you may be able to immediately tell you have a stress fracture, respond by treating yourself to two to four months of rest, and be back to running as good as new, if you get burnout, you may keep going without realizing it for years and years until it’s too late, especially if you’re in an environment that mistakes deterioration for plain laziness.
That being said, I’m going to do exactly what anyone should do when they’ve pushed themselves to breaking: Stop. I’m gonna be taking a break for a very long while, and devote myself to other activities while I recover. That is to say, if I recover. Like I said, at this point, quitting feels more like a release than a loss, so I may never go back.
So, in case I don’t come back, bye everyone! It’s been a good run.
One day I'll escape this hell and you'll be gone.
—Kreig the Psycho