10 Tips for Getting out of a Creative Rut

We’ve all been there. You’re stuck. You want to create something. You HAVE to create something. And nothing comes. Your mind is blank, your brain feels like mush, you have no desire whatsoever to create and honestly, you’ve been feeling a bit like Snooze-Fest 2018. I know exactly what that feels like… because I fall into that rut frequently. Wayyyy too often, actually. And once you’re in it, once you start second guessing and feeling like “my work is crap”, it’s a steep, fast and slippery downhill slope while you’re scrambling to get back to the top while wearing mittens and socks. SO! The key to getting out of the rut is catching yourself before you even get on that slippery slide. Realize you’re in a rut, that this is temporary, and then do something about it.

SO. Here we go. We are on a mission TOGETHER to get out of the uninspired abyss.

1. Make a List of Things You’re Good At

You’re good at stuff. You really are. You’ve got a few really special talents you’re known for. Remember those talents and keep telling yourself “I am good at ______! Write them down.  I am sure that your eyes are so far back into your head you can see your brain… already. BUT we are going somewhere. I promise. this will force you to actually think… “what am I good at”? Once those brain juices start flowing, confidence increases, and the rest should be easy. SOOO…  (these are not mine, just examples. HA!)

  • I am a good listener
  • I am a great painter
  • I am a wonderful friend
  • I have a great singing voice
  • I am a strong runner
  • I have an eye for design

To start, focus on your strengths. Give yourself a little confidence boost. Stop telling yourself, “You Suck!” Because honestly, you don’t suck. That is not the problem with being in a creative rut. The problem is that you are uninspired. And that is temporary. You have so many great qualities that can lead you to create again. Just remind yourself what those qualities are. And then move to step two.

2. Have Confidence in your own Thoughts and Ideas

So many times I start to second guess myself. Maybe I had one idea that flopped or something that didn’t turn out the way I had planned. It can kill your confidence! But that doesn’t mean you should stop creating and it DEFINITELY doesn’t mean your ideas aren’t good. Because they ARE… most of the time. Have confidence that what you have to say and believe that what you are putting out in the world is important and worthwhile!

Don’t be afraid to follow your own brain! Which leads nicely into step 3.

3. Stop Looking at Your Phone Already!!!!

This is the number one culprit of time and morale killing in my life. UGHHH the struggle. It is so easy to get sucked into useless information in the world of gif’s and memes. Yeah yeah, a few minutes here and there won’t hurt anyone, sometimes you need a good laugh. But the incessant, mindless scrolling to the far off corners of instagram threads and cat videos is just not necessary. Ever. There have literally been nights where after an HOUR of scrolling, I’ll put my phone down and think “WHAT DID I EVEN JUST LOOK AT?!” then stare at the wall with my brain just a blur of nothingness – t0tally kicking myself for wasting so much time.

It is true you can find inspiration online and on The Gram. But if that is the case, go in with a purpose. Start your scrolling marathon knowing what you are looking for and don’t get distracted. You will be much happier AND you’ll have a lot more time on your hands to create what you love.

Along these same lines, when I have finally jumped back on the creative train, I find it so helpful to just create and not look. Stop looking at other people’s work. Focus on your own for a while and give it strength. Stop getting distracted. Stop thinking “maybe I should try that! maybe I need to do it this way, or that!” Just do what you are doing, trust your gut and your intuition, do what you love. Don’t even look left or right, keep your eye on your creation, your vision and give it a nice solid foundation of confidence before you open your eyes to anything else.

Now… with that said, let’s move on to step 4.

4. For Heaven’s Sake, Stop Comparing Yourself to Others!

The topic of comparison has been talked about to DEATH. But for good reason. Specifically about IG for a quick second. It is easier now than ever to compare. It is actually quite bonkers the way that we are living in this “social media loving” society. Going back to high school… can you remember? You KIND OF knew who the “cool kids” were. They were well liked, yada yada. But now there are NUMBERS… actual numbers telling you how awesome you are (or aren’t). Why do we give these numbers that much power?! Don’t let the number define you. Better than that, try and forget about the number completely, forget that the numbers even exist! The will eat you up. You have no control over the numbers. So stop worrying about them. If you struggle with this aspect of social media, stop looking. Just do it. Stop looking and obsessing. STOP STOP STOP.

Yes, someone out there is getting that promotion you wanted, going on amazing vacations, spending more time with their family, creating the most insanely beautiful content… so many others seem to have everything they have ever wanted and why isn’t all this great stuff happening to you right now?!

Here’s the thing with that way of thinking…. Their thing is not your thing. Focus on your thing. Your schtick. Everyone blossoms at different times.  The best thing you can do when you see someone KILLING IT and thriving is to be happy for them! You will have your time. They may be having their moment now when you feel like you’re laying flat on your face. But they also have “off days”. We all do. Stop comparing your crap day with their “best day ever”. (Have you noticed that you aren’t really looking at others when you’re having your best day ever?) It’s when you’re feeling at your worst that you start lookin’ around to see what other people are doing just to validate your sad thoughts. But don’t give those thoughts a leg to stand on. You are awesome. You’re just in a temporary slump. That’s all there is to it.

5. A Change of Scenery

Seeing the same thing day in and day out can get monotonous. Monotony is uninspiring. Get some fresh air. Take a walk around a neighborhood you’ve never been to. If possible, buy a plane ticket or go on a road trip. Get out of dodge for a while. See something new, go somewhere new for lunch, do something you have never done before, get your adrenaline pumping. You are guaranteed to spark some new ideas or to breathe new life into your old ideas with a flip in your surroundings.

6. Listen to music

What music inspires you? What makes you feel? Listen to that. Go on a drive, immerse yourself with what you’re familiar with. Sing loudly to yourself! Then listen to something completely different… the opposite that you’re used to. Do you usually lean toward pop? Try country. Do you love Country? Try classical. Mix it up. Do something new.

7. Take a Stroll Around a Flea Market, Art Gallery or Farmer’s Market

Get out, talk to people, see what they have created, find some inspiration in antiques, old furniture, colors, paintings, food, people. Open your eyes. Take a camera and snap some photos of things you are inspired by. Maybe it is the bunch of fresh lavender at the farmer’s market, the handmade baskets woven to perfection, the bin of vintage records or that chair that has lived a thousand lives. So many things to see and inspire. You just need to look!

8. Pick Up a Book or Listen to a Podcast

Get out of your own world. Think of the way someone else lives. Take lessons from others who have been in your same situation. I absolutely love immersing myself in other peoples’ stories. It opens my mind into new ways of thinking and helps me to realize, “hey, there is a big giant world out there with millions of people whom all have different ideas, wants, needs.” Sometimes getting caught up in your own thoughts closes your mind and keeps all your thoughts within your bubble. Reflecting on how huge our world is, on different cultures and people and lives inspires me to think outside the box. It allows me to step outside of my daily grind and gives me a little bit of humbling perspective.

I am not much of a “self help” book reader but after I had seeing these two books over and over, I decided to give them a try. How to Be a Badass and Big Magic. Both will get your buns moving and motivated. Both are great if you are holding back, have any fear, or are wondering if your idea is worthwhile. Both are great reads.

Podcasts are also great especially if you are on the go. I use the Podcast app on my phone, super simple way to connect and listen to others tell their story. I have been engulfed in “Not by Accident”, a podcast about a woman who decides to become a single mother via artificial insemination at age 40. The stories of others is so inspiring to me, talking about their struggles, bravery, honesty… I can’t stop listening!

I’ve also been loving Oprah’s Soul Sessions where she interviews inspiring figures. Always a good convo to listen to. Whatever you are into, you can find it there!

9. Do something outside of your comfort zone

Fear is the number one reason I don’t do most things I think of. It’s hard to me to admit, honestly. I have an insane amount of ideas… they’re flowing like Niagra Falls most days! But it’s the follow through I lack… and that is mostly because I am TOO GOSH DARN AFRAID OF FAILURE! If it’s not safe, I’m not there. And I hate that. The first step here is recognizing that I handle most situations running away from things I am afraid of. I only recently had this epiphany about myself. But once I realized this was happening, I was able to flip my thinking and gain a bit of courage. Yes, I may be fearful of failure. BUT what is the worst that is going to happen… honestly. I may have another idea, creation or experience that didn’t go exactly how I planned. And then what? You try again! The world doesn’t end. You are still a good person. You try again.

I saw a quote the other day that said “Everything you want lives on the other side of fear.” This could not ring more true for me. If you are fearful, just realize that yes, there will be failure. But when there isn’t failure and something ACTUALLY works, it will be amazing, invigorating, wonderful. So can we just stop being fearful together? And live our lives jumping in with both feet?! K thanks. 🙂

10. Give Yourself Time

Don’t get discouraged. If your creativity doesn’t start flowing immediately, that doesn’t mean it won’t again. Give yourself time. Take a break. It’s ok to step away for a while and regroup. There is nothing wrong with a detox and a fresh breath.

Sometimes all you need to move forward is a little time spent grounding yourself.

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