You probably landed on this article because you are a creative experiencing a rut at this very moment. We’ve all been there. We know how it feels when we try our best to squeeze that imaginary lemon in our heads and no juice comes out of it, not even a pulp. It becomes frustrating when we’re trying to beat a deadline but it’s 2 in the morning and we still have a blank page document and a blinking cursor before us.
The rut, they say, is part of the creative process, somewhere we have to cross before we get to that aha! winning Eureka moment. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as a noun with three entries: (1) a periodic and often annually recurring state of certain male animals (such as deer or elk) during which behavior associated with the urge to breed is displayed, (2) a track worn by a wheel or by habitual passage and (3) a usual or a fixed practice.
In whatever context, a rut is recurring, habitual, and fixed—the exact opposite environment of where a creative thrives. We want to be in that zone that excites us, makes our hearts flutter, and our bodies dance to the beat. We’ll get to that flow; we just have to get out of this rut at the moment. Here are some xx ways how to pass through that creative rut more energized and enthusiastic than when you first entered its dark walls.
1. Go out of your comfort zone.
Oftentimes, we feel stuck in a rut because we yearn for excitement or a challenge in something that has become routine for us. Spice things up a bit and go out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be a grand project; it just has to make you feel uncomfortable. For instance, if you’re an introvert, challenge yourself by striking up a chat with a stranger at a cafe. Or simply message your crush with a “hi.” Growth is always on the other side of your comfort zone.
Sometimes, all we need's a little break. Take deep breaths; inhale, exhale. Sit down, put your hands on your lap, and close your eyes. Follow a guided meditation through paid subscription apps such as Headspace or Calm. You may get free guided ones as well on YouTube. Meditation helps you be more present and mindful of what you’re doing at the current moment. It takes your mind off from whatever you’re worrying about and allows you to focus on what you have to do.
Clean that workstation. Use storage units.
Do a 10-minute yoga sequence and get deep into the practice. Stretching releases tense muscles and getting yourself to move helps your body release endorphins. Yoga puts you into a state of calm where you would be able to see things with a clearer mind.
5. Take a walk outside.
Get inspiration from daily life outside. If you are in the city, observe people; a judge who’s happy or not. If you live in the suburbs, walk towards the farm, listen to the sound of chirping birds, taste local coffee.
Be curious about your surroundings; listen to the noise. What’s the meaning of that wall art? Why do people take photos in that area? What do you wear outside nowadays? Taking a stroll outside allows your mind to think, even for a brief time only.
6. Bend the rules.
Whatever it is you’re doing, it’s sucking the life out of you. Why don’t you stop following the rules of the game and bend it a little? Introduce a new format or explore an unconventional topic. Following things by the book can sometimes bore us. If you have a superior, let them know first of your plan.
7. Talk to a friend.
Chat or call a friend who brings out the best in you. Be honest and open about the emptiness you feel inside of yourself. Releasing your emotions to someone else gives you a relief that you are not alone and you would always have someone to talk to. Why don’t you talk about the past to your friend? Maybe recalling a similar time when you got stuck in a creative rut can help you get out of it at present. You’d even share laughs with your friend. It doesn’t have to be your best friend but preferably, someone you look up to.
8. Read inspirational quotes.
Fill your workspace with inspirational quotes. Purchase a Cork Board where you may pin all the inspirational quotes that struck and motivated you. Fill it in and put it somewhere you can see every time you look in that direction.
9. Take a nap.
Your mind and body need to rest. If you need a reset, take a power nap that will help you recalibrate and recharge.
Sometimes, you can’t think clearly because you lack sleep. Sleep is not a waste of time; on the contrary, it helps you be more efficient and focused throughout the day.
10. Know your why.
Ultimately, you just have to circle back to asking yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Write down your thoughts to gain a deeper sense of clarity. If it’s a deadline that’s rushing you, then knowing that as your why can push you to work and those creative juices to flow.
Remember that a creative rut is just a temporary phase you go through in order to reach the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, letting it happen is the best way to get rid of it. Surround yourself with like-minded people---those who inspire you, support you, and challenge you to become the best version of yourself.