How to Get Out of a Creative Rut
Humans are unique in that we possess an innate and driving ability to be creative. Being our best creatively is influenced directly by being our best as a whole person. As an artist, I understand the challenge of a creative rut and the need to overcome it. This post explores ten helpful ideas that foster renewed inspiration and mental invigoration for fellow creatives.
1. Physical Stimulation Creates Mental Stimulation
Physical exercise in nearly every form significantly enhances brain health and function. It is a way to alleviate stress, focus the mind, and improve memory. Activities such as running, dancing, swimming, or taking a short walk allow us a change of scenery, fresh air, and invigoration that is great for clearing the mind and aiding new ideas. Exercise is undoubtedly one of the easiest, fastest ways to enjoy a boost in your creativity, and it’s also free!
2. When it comes to Creativity, Music is Everything
Studies show that music can have marked effects on our brain activity, helping to stimulate both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously. Right brain activity triggers divergent thinking, or the ability to innovate and think outside of the box, while Left brain activity utilizes convergent thinking, or the ability to focus on one particular task or solution. Put the two at work and you have imagination and implementation, a perfect combination!
Upbeat music can increase our mental processing capacity while instrumental music, such as classical or ambient electronic music, can boost creativity, that missing spark to give our creativity a boost.
3. Enhance Your Focus and Clarity with Consistent Sleep and Nutrition.
We know that what we eat profoundly impacts our body, mind, and emotional state. It is difficult for our minds to be their most efficient without the proper fuel. Try to eat at scheduled times to create structure in your workflow. When our lives get very busy with deadlines approaching, and we need our best creative efforts to manifest, it becomes vital to incorporate foods essential to energy and brain health. Ensure that your diet contains unprocessed foods, whole grains, and a variety of fruits and vegetables as a decisive step to improving mental alertness and creative flow. Coffee helps, but try not to overdo it.
The entire body works together to help artists, musicians, writers, and other innovative people achieve unique and skillful outcomes. Along with exercise and nutrition, the element of sleep equally contributes to breaking out of creative ruts and unproductive routines. When we experience a complete, consistent sleep cycle during the night, our brains are free to dream, consolidate memories, process emotions, and rejuvenate. Keep a journal next to your bedside. Some of our best ideas come before or just after waking up.
4. Indulge Yourself with a Dedicated Time of Pampering
Taking time to unwind, rest and restore fully is essential to overcoming a creative rut. Self-care might include a time of solitude in your home, tending to personal activities that you enjoy. One of my personal pampering favorites is soaking in a long hot bath with fragrant bath salts and candles. Consider using aromatherapy and essential oils that are known to have excellent benefits in stimulating creativity, calmness, and focus, enhancing your overall mood. Indulge in favorite activities such as reading, baking, or gardening to distract your mind in a healthy way and give your thoughts a reprieve from constant artistic demands.
5. Permit Yourself to Create Without Specific Goals
As professional artists in any creative field, we must meet continual deadlines as part of our business. It becomes stressful when our innovation must happen according to time restraints. Take time out to daydream and let your mind wander without the stress of having to produce. In my book, starring at the ceiling is time well spent!
Dedicating parts of the day to create without specific goals can be a great way to unleash your mind, let go of self-criticism, and vent frustrations. For example, if you’re a writer, try freewriting every thought in your mind as quickly as possible, no matter how silly or random it is. Give yourself permission to be dull or exciting or vent your feelings. Apply the same process to other creative fields. Try doodling, taking photos, or listening to inspiring music to get yourself creatively warmed up.
6. Fill Your Day with Positive Habits, Activities, and People
Establishing healthy habits and relationships is essential to cultivating an atmosphere of innovation and mental focus. As part of my daily routine, I continually identify negative habits that distract from my creative process and work to eliminate them. Try to notice when you catch yourself spending too much time on social media or procrastinating. Try to use the unproductive time instead to gain new knowledge or skills. Practice your artistic skills or take courses to develop new skills, thus inspiring feelings of mastery and confidence in your professional abilities. Other great activities include listening to inspirational podcasts and reading affirming books or stories.
7. Take Advantage of Live and Experiential Events
Perhaps nothing is quite as inspiring as attending live events, galleries, and museums. Seeing and experiencing art, photography, and sculpture up close brings acute awareness to your senses and allows your mind to explore possibilities you may not have considered. Enjoying live concerts of pop, folk, or classical music immerses you in an auditory experience free from the strains of conversation or social media. Outings like these are accessible and affordable and contribute to new and spontaneous artistic visions.
8. Find a Mentor and Be a Mentor
I have personally benefited from astonishing mentors throughout my career. A mentor offers guidance and a fresh perspective to your artistic and career path. They can help us “get out of our heads” and see our situation in a new light. Likewise, as a mentor, I believe in the value of coaching and guiding fellow artists. Sometimes the best way to learn is to teach and you can put your know-how and expertise to the test. Providing positive feedback and encouragement often influences your individual perspective and creative growth, and this learning process can also go both ways.
9. Establish a Work Environment and Routine that is Ideal for You
Outlining a workflow process is helpful to begin a new creative brief in that specific steps provide momentum to get started, even if you feel a little stuck. List are crucial, and crossing off even the smallest of tasks helps you feel you are progressing towards your goal. Give your project a “working” title so the end of the project starts to take form and allow this to guide you in creating your workflow. I encourage you not to strive for perfection on the first try but be flexible and forgiving as you work out the details and move towards the finished product. Make sure your work environment and time remain quiet, uninterrupted, and respected by others.
10. Share Your Experiences and Frustrations
An excellent strategy for many people to move past a creative block is to talk about their project with friends, partners, coworkers, or fellow artists. Verbalizing your process with others allows the opportunity to mirror creative frustrations, discuss new ideas, and compels you to better structure your thoughts and focus on the subject. Intriguing questions, different viewpoints, and lively banter provide helpful insights into fresh approaches to continued inspiration.
Your role as a creative professional is vital throughout daily society but finding inspiration can sometimes become a challenge. Taking care of your health, emotional well-being, and environmental factors daily are essential to maintaining creativity and enthusiasm in artistic pursuits.