By: Kayla Matthews
You won’t find your office’s creativity vampire hiding in the dark supply closet or hanging from the ceiling for a snooze.
No, there’s not a horror movie character hiding in the wings — a creativity vampire comes in a much less sinister package. However, you may be dealing with one, and it can be greatly affecting your work.
What’s a Creativity Vampire?
Firstly, you might want to know what a creativity vampire is in the first place. This haunting presence can take on a slew of different forms — which we’ll get to shortly — but let’s define the term first. Simply put, a creativity vampire feeds off another person’s energy, thus weakening their artistic inclinations. After crossing paths with one, you’ll feel fatigued and unable to complete your to-do list.
Creative vampires act in multiple ways. Famously, Pablo Picasso worked best after inviting other artists over to his studio for the day. They’d get nothing done and go home unable to put pen to paper. Meanwhile, Picasso’s creative juices would flow as soon as his guests departed from his home. He fed off of their energy, thus making him one of history’s most famous creative vampires.
In your case, though, a creative vampire could work in a different way. Perhaps you have a colleague who often asks you to check over their work before submitting it. If you have tasks of your own to complete — and this type of edit isn’t part of your job description — then you’re dealing with a vampire. You might have a coworker who continues to interrupt you during your creative time by asking questions. If someone ignores that you’re concentrating and breaks up your process, then they’re a vampire, too.
Of course, you can also be your own creative vampire. Perhaps you speak negatively to yourself about your ideas, which stalls you from pressing forward. Self-doubt can be exhausting, too — after a day of second-guessing your output, you’re sure to feel fatigued, another sign you’ve faced a creativity vampire.
Most creatives find it tough to focus on work without a looming deadline, for example. So, your own lack of perseverance and focus can affect your output, too.
How Can I Fight a Creativity Vampire?
Fortunately, once you realize you’re being haunted by such a fearsome force, you can take steps to reverse the issue. No need to reach for garlic or a wooden stake, either — here’s how to do it:
1. Pinpoint Potential Vampires
Firstly, you need to take stock on your colleagues or loved ones who might be vampires of your creativity. Who leaves you feeling drained or exhausted after you help them with something? Make a mental note of who’s on the list.
2. Become Comfortable Saying No
You might get sucked into helping a creative vampire because you’re unable to say no. The same goes for someone who drains you emotionally — you have to start to turn down their requests. It’s tough to do so at first, of course, especially in a professional setting. However, it all comes down to your job description.
If your vampire has you doing things outside of your realm of responsibility, then you shouldn’t be saying yes to them in the first place. Soon enough, you’ll grow stronger in your ability to turn down additional tasks that take you from your creative pursuits.
On that note, you should be able to redirect conversations that veer toward vampire-ish, too. If a colleague starts to speak negatively about your workplace or another coworker, shift the focus on positive things. Or, in a group setting, engage with someone else at the table so that you’re not drained by a negative influence. These little tips can also help you say no to what’s exhausting you without physically speaking the word.
3. Control Your Negative Reactions
You can work to ward off vampires, but you can also quell your own reactions with a few calming techniques. For instance, you could start writing in a gratitude journal to highlight all the good things that you have. Then, when a vampire tries to start draining you, you can rehash the list in your mind.
Or, focus on the fact that you control your emotions — when a vampire strikes, remember that you decide your reaction. You can choose to not let their negativity bother you. This technique works if you’re your own vampire as well. Quiet the negative voices in your head and get back to what you’re best at doing.
4. Find Positive Influences
Finally, after you ditch your creative vampires, you can shore yourself up with work friends who positively influence your creative output. In delineating who drains you, you might have realized who has the opposite effect. Be sure to spend time with those who push you to try new things and do better. They’re going to push you far from your currently fatigued state and get your creative juices flowing once more.
Fight the Vampire and Win
Your creative vampire doesn’t have to be scary. Now, you know how to face yours down and come out on the other side as your formerly productive, creative self.
About the author
Kayla Matthews, a tech-obsessed innovation writer, has written featured pieces for InformationWeek, The Innovation Enterprise, The Muse and more. You can see more of Kayla’s work on her site, Productivity Bytes, or follow her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews.