Creative Rut: How To Refuel The Creative Flame
I like to take moments on social media to solely observe and analyze. I do this often and find it to be very rewarding. In fact, I believe it could be helpful for everyone to try it every once in a while. I recently have noticed both in the blogging community and the creative community that many people are sort of, “running out of ideas” for lack of a better word. Almost as if simultaneously a lot of us seem to be in a creative rut. Well, some people would call it “writers block” except for I don’t believe that’s real. In fact, I have a whole perspective on creative people never being in a rut, never feeling stuck….at least if you’re creating right, but that’s for another time. Today I wanted to share a couple things I have found many people do, even I have done to shake things up that maybe would help anyone in that “stuck” situation. If you feel like you’re in this place where you don’t have any ideas, you’re not feeling inspired or motivate to make anything, and you’re not excited about what you’re putting out there, then hopefully these seven tips will help you overcome that and get back to the fun stuff. Here we go, here’s 7 ways to refuel that creative flame.
#1. Step Back, & Take a Break.
There’s this quote that I really love and believe it would be a great way to explain this first tip and that is, “The creative process is a process of surrender not control” by Julia Cameron. I love this because it’s so true and it reminds me to take the pressure off of needing to be 100% in control. Sometimes the best thing you can do in life is to take a break. I don’t know that many creative people understand the importance of breaks, or moments of nothingness, but it is something that can be very beneficial not just because you’re an artist but because you’re a human. I always say that I am first human, second an artist. I need to take care of the human me before the artist me. You could possibly feel stuck because of a busy schedule, pressure from clients, relationship issues, or even your own desperate need for perfectionism. If you feel this constant strain to always put things out, you’re setting your art up for failure. Not allowing creativity to breathe and just be, can also stunt any motivation you could have. So step back, take a break from your work and just allow yourself to be human again. I promise you won’t regret it.
#2. Get Out There & Live Life
I don’t know about any of you, but when I am in the zone I forget about all time and space. I can forget to eat or pee or check my phone. I get so immersed in what I’m creating that it’s all I can do. When you’re in a creative rut and you find yourself doing this, it may be a sign that (besides taking a break) you just need to get out there and live life. This may sound really cheesy, and it is but it is also extremely helpful to the creative process. There is so much life to live right outside your artistic studio (for most of us it’s our tiny rooms or coffee shop we’ve deemed as our prestigious ‘studio.’) Get out there and live it. Go ride your bike through your nearest park. Go grab some fresh fruit and veggies at the local farmer’s market. Go to a concert, have dinner with friends. Visit a relative you haven’t seen in a while. Go do things you don’t have time to do normally. Not only will this get your creative juices flowing, but it will allow you to have real life experiences that can spark an idea or be just the thing you needed to finish that book.
So this is something I learned in a writing class in college and at first I really hated it, like really hated it, but now this is something I find myself doing on my own (without grunting and looking up at the clock every five minutes.) This could look different per person but it’s a fun exercise and can also spark new ideas. Allowing yourself to write, play, draw whatever it is that comes to your mind can be exciting, also scary but mostly exciting. So grab a pen and paper, take a seat, and write whatever comes to your mind. If you’re a musician get in front of your instrument and jam whatever comes to your mind. It may feel “forced” at first, but once you’re past that feeling of “is this doing anything” and just surrender to the moment, you can really get lost and feel that fire once again. For me I start off with words. I just write down random words that pop into my mind, anything that is standing out at the moment. Eventually it leads to something and I’m writing again. Maybe look around the room and write what you see, what you feel or smell. One small thing can lead to the next big thing you land on all thanks to surrendering to your own stream of consciousness.
#4. Collaborate with Others
Collaboration is such a key world in the creative industry and many people see it to be a powerful tool. I personally love collaborating with other creatives. It helps boosts ideas and it allows me to see how other people work. Everyone is so different and when we work too often alone, we forget there is art outside of ourselves. We can easily forget that there are approaches that we aren’t taking, or perspectives we don’t have. Opening yourself to others in an artistic way can take the heavy work load off of you (since it’s not being shared), can teach you about community and how different personalities mesh well together (or don’t), and most of all can help you feel understood. Who knows, maybe someone else was exactly where you are and can lend some helpful advice? Whether you’re a lone-wolf or the life of the party, surrounding yourself with like-minded people will inspire you, and bring back that fire that you forgot all about.
#5. Switch It Up.
This is by far one of my favorite ways to stay creative because it’s so simple. Switching up how and what you do on a day to day basis can be a quick and easy way to get out of a creative rut. It can be as easy as taking a different route to work or ordering a different drink at your local coffee shop. Either way, stepping out of your norm and into a new way of doing things can really get you on the edge of your seat and prepare you for whatever idea is coming next. For me, I am always listening to new music, or watching films I’ve never seen. I am so inspired by music and film it’s crazy. I have a playlist that every few weeks I empty out and stock back up with brand new songs. I listen to it while I’m getting ready, in the car or just chilling in my house on the weekend. The whole act of taking initiative to search new artists, bands, albums, songs really proves to yourself that you’re willing to “work” for that flame to come back, and who knows you may just fall in love with a new band. This happened for me a couple years ago and now Mac Demarco is on nearly every playlist I have.
Whatever your spiritual belief may be meditating and spending time alone doing nothing is helpful. For me, I pray. I put on some uplifting music, dim the lights, and get into an atmosphere of solitude. I also like to turn my phone off and just breathe. I find this to be so relaxing. Studies show that meditation and prayer aid in the release of stress, anxiety, overwhelming emotions, and gives you the space to really figure things out. I tend to be a nervous person normally, so it’s important for me to make time in my week to get alone and pray. It helps me feel “okay” again. Having struggled with depression and anxiety, this is helpful not just to my creative process but also my mental and emotional health. I am able to be aware of my thoughts and emotions, sort through all the things I wouldn’t have time for and settle on decisions, and ideas I may have.
#7. Be Physically Active
So you’re probably thinking, “What does physical activity have to do with creating art” and I like to think whoever is asking that is probably a really stuck up hipster in a turtle neck from Goodwill and pays $6 for Matcha tea. Relax, I’m not saying you have to be sporty, if that were the case I would fail miserably. What I am saying is that doing something active for your own body can boost your energy and confidence which may be just what you need. Whether that be visiting the gym, riding your bike, going for a swim, taking a dance class, punching a bag, or stretching in hot yoga, getting your heart rate up and exercising can eliminate stress, and boost endorphins which we could all use more of, am I right? Half the time creative people feel “uncreative” because of stress and anxiety we just haven’t been able to pin-point it as such. Physical activity has been studied to reduce stress in our lives and at this point you have nothing to lose.
Well that’s it, all 7 of the tips I have to share about refueling that creative flame. I hope it helps someone, even just one person out there. If you find yourself in this situation, try these on for size, you may just surprise yourself. Once you do, let me know how it works out for you. I’ll be switching my music playlist soon and heading to a kick boxing gym soon, maybe this will spark something in me as well. Until next time I wish you all the brightest ideas, the most passionate journeys and the most creative relationships. Cheers!