Creativity is a mysterious thing and creative ruts can be equally as puzzling. Sometimes, it just flows out of you, like water from an enchanted spring. Other times, it feels like you’re trying to squeeze blood from a stone. In my experience, the former is much more common than the latter. When your creativity dries up how do you get out of the rut? Here are some ways I’ve found useful when confronted with this situation:
What is a creative rut?
A creative rut is a period of time when you’re not making progress on or are unsatisfied with your creative projects. It can be frustrating and discouraging, especially if you’ve been working hard on something for a long time and haven’t gotten anywhere.
It’s important to remember that creative ruts are often caused by external factors–and even if they aren’t, they’re temporary by nature! So don’t give up hope just because things aren’t moving forward right now.
Take a break from your creative projects.
Sometimes all you need is a little distance and some time away to find new inspiration. If you’ve been working on the same project for too long, take a break by doing something else entirely: read a book, watch TV or go out with friends. Don’t worry about what you’re going to do next; just enjoy being away from your work!
Let go of judgements, especially about yourself.
It’s a waste of time and energy to judge yourself and your creative output. If something isn’t working for you in the moment, let it go and try something else. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques and mediums; this is how we learn! Be open-minded about trying new things, even if they seem out of character or challenging at first glance (in fact especially then). You might surprise yourself by discovering how much fun something is when you give it a chance instead of dismissing it outright before even trying it out!
Don’t compare yourself with others either: everyone has their own unique style that makes them special–and there are no right answers when it comes right down to making art anyway!
Get out of your head.
When you’re in a creative rut, it can be difficult to break free from the mental block and find inspiration. Fortunately, there are several ways to get out of your head and spark your creativity.
One method is to take a break from your work and engage in a different activity, such as going for a walk or listening to music. This can help to clear your mind and provide a fresh perspective. Another approach is to seek inspiration from other sources, such as reading a book or watching a movie that aligns with your creative goals. Additionally, practicing mindfulness and meditation can help to quiet your mind and alleviate stress, allowing you to focus on your creativity. Finally, collaborating with others or seeking feedback from peers can also provide new insights and inspiration, helping you to break through your creative rut.
Find new inspiration.
There are many ways to find inspiration. You can look for it in different places, from other artists in different fields, or even from nature. The possibilities are endless!
You can also seek out inspiration by listening to others’ stories and learning about their lives. This will help you see things with a fresh perspective–and it might even give you some ideas of your own!
It’s important not just to look outside yourself but also within yourself: Your own life experiences may provide answers that no one else can provide because they’re so unique (and sometimes surprising).
Try something different.
If you’re feeling stuck, try something different.
- Try a new medium. Try watercolor or acrylic paint on paper instead of your usual oil paints on canvas for example. You might find that the new medium works better with your vision than the one you’ve been using so far!
- Try a new technique. Maybe brushwork isn’t really working for you–try experimenting with some other techniques like stippling or crosshatching instead! Or maybe this is just the time to try out painting digitally (if it’s not already part of your process).
- Change up subject matter: instead of people and landscapes, try still lifes; instead of portraits, maybe try doing self-portraits; if landscapes aren’t really cutting it anymore either then perhaps consider doing abstract pieces as well because sometimes even figurative work can get stale when done over time without any variation whatsoever…and so forth…the possibilities are endless here so don’t limit yourself!
Being able to identify that you’re in a creative rut and knowing how to get out can be the difference between making progress and giving up.
Creative ruts are normal. They happen to everyone, and it’s important to know that they’re not a sign of failure or lack of talent.
Creativity is a learning process, so when you hit a creative rut it’s time to reflect on what has worked in the past and how you can apply those lessons moving forward. Don’t beat yourself up if nothing comes out at first–just keep trying! You may have to create conditions for creativity instead of forcing it out (such as giving yourself an hour every day where there are no distractions).
Creativity is not a formula – it’s an experience and sometimes you have to go through the ruts to get there
It’s okay if you are in a creative rut; it happens to all of us at some point in time or another. You can get out of this rut by allowing yourself time and space for reflection, or by doing something completely different than what you normally do when creating work (like going to an art gallery or spending time with friends).
By allowing yourself time to think, you can find a way to get out of your rut and move forward.
We know that creativity is not a formula. It’s an experience, and sometimes you have to go through the ruts in order to get there. Creativity is messy and unpredictable, but it’s also incredibly rewarding when we allow ourselves to enjoy it as such. We hope that these tips will help lift your spirits out of any rut so that you can continue creating beautiful things in this world!
Next, check out this post for productivity tips for photogs!