About 3 months ago, I was fed up with everything I was designing and sewing, and officially declared myself in a creative rut. My goal was to get out of this rut, but everything I read led me to the same useless tactics. I finally took some chances and devised my own way to gain my Creativity and Inspiration back, and after 4 insanely creative weeks, I am ready to share with you all how I did it! These tactics tackle the block we feel in our mind, body, soul and social sphere, which is what we need to get out of that devastating creative rut!
1. Beginner: Get Outside
Advanced: Do 30 Minutes of Yoga a Day
This first step towards getting your creativity and inspiration back should come as no surprise. The first thing on everyone’s list is to do some outdoor activity, even if it’s as simple as a walk. The reason it’s on everyone’s list is simple: it works. Not just one walk, but every. damn. day. Breathing clean air and doing some sort of physical activity has been proven to actually stimulate the brain and provide clarity in thought. Although a hard workout might do the opposite, pushing your easy walk outside to a consistent meditation or yoga session provides the physical component necessary to dissipate creative block. I recently started doing yoga 3x a week and I can tell you that not only do I feel better physically, but I sleep better, which allows me to think clearer and be more focused in my creative endeavors on a daily basis.
2. Beginner: Read an Instruction Book
Advanced: Set Goals and DO the activities in the Book
This next tip to beating that creative and inspiration rut is by going back to school. Grab a textbook or instruction book (not a self help book!) and start reading. It can be anything! I whipped out my college French textbook and starting flipping through the pages which immediately brought me back to a time where my creativity flowed. Even better, actually COMPLETE the exercises in the book! Whether its a book of DIYs, watercolor painting, cooking or my personal favorite, sewing… brushing up on old skills or learning new ones has an amazing way of stimulating the brain. I am working my way through a japanese pattern making book one small exercise at a time… and I’ve learned many new techniques that have inspired me to make new things… which is exactly what we are going for here!
3. Beginner: Listen to a Creativity/Business Podcast
Advanced: Ask and Answer the same questions to yourself
I’ve spoken before about the beauty of podcasts; I even wrote an entire post on my favorite podcasts here. I advise combining my #1 tip with this one and go on a walk listening to your favorite podcast. Or try a new one! Listening to how someone else philosophizes about creativity or jumped through hoops trying to build their business can be very inspiring and humbling to us poor suffering creatives. Better yet, pause after each question the interviewer asks and ask yourself What’s your answer? What would you do? This type of self-reflection can help pull you out of your own sadness and wallowing for a second and come at your goals or successes with an analytical point of view. Plus, it will help you to understand what you are great at and what you still need to work on. Facing your own interview is like looking in the mirror, and it will help you feel positive about what’s looking back.
4. Beginner: Talk it Out with a Loved One
Advanced: Talk it out with a crew of Loved Ones
I think the beginner level of this is probably something that most of us do anyway. Discussing your creative challenges with a best friend, parent or spouse can be helpful in order to gain their perspective on why it may have happened in the first place. Is it tied to financial, familial or health issues that only they would understand? This type of conversation helps to ground the why, and remind you that it will not last forever. As for next steps, poll the audience! Ask a group of friends or family members to visit and over a bottle of wine ask them to speak truthfully about their own creative ruts and what advice they may have for you. Trust me, they know you better than you think. Maybe you’re not ready for a full on pity party, but sending out a group text or anonymous survey is also a great way to poll the audience: what project should you do next? What is their favorite painting of yours? What has inspired them the most recently? Use their trust and intelligence to your advantage!
5. Beginner: Take Time Off
Advanced: Complete Social Media Break
Last but not least, if all else fails in your pursuit to regain your creativity and inspiration, take some time off. Not just from your creative endeavors (I assume you are already on a break, which is why you need this post!) but from something else. Maybe it’s those soul cycle classes. Maybe its from the TV. Maybe it’s from work! Take time off, in order to focus on the first 4 tips mentioned above. If the goal in your life was to get in shape, then you would give up other things in order to make time for that. Creativity is the exact same thing. It is a muscle that needs constant time and flexing. Extra special bonus points if you are able to quit social media as your ‘time off’. Constantly reading status updates, FOMO and seeing everyone else’s successes can be damaging to the creative ego, and trust me, you aren’t missing anything. This was the final stop of my own creative journey and although it was the hardest component for me, I feel much clearer headed and less competitive than I did before!
Now I’ve got my groove back and the creativity is flowing. I have a lot planned for 2018 so stay tuned! Do I think I will ever fall into a creative rut again? Of course! But there is always a new textbook to read, podcast to listen to or yoga move to pull me out of it. Good luck on your creative journey and please feel free to share in the comments your own successes and struggles for my or other reader’s benefit.