Creative Ruts and Tips for How to Get Out of Them
Sometimes ideas and creative practices flow right in, but other times, they are really hard to come by. I’m going through one of those times where creative ideas aren’t flowing as easily for me as they usually do. Like many things, sometimes creativity is simply about developing a habit and slogging through it. But when you are in the throes of a rut, it’s sometimes good to step away at what you’re working on to get refreshed. Here are the ways I combat those creative slumps in case you go through those moments also.
Get off the Internet
Put your phone on Airplane mode and go about your day without it. It’s alarming how accustomed to picking up your phone to check out something on social media, look up something, shop, or indulge in other things that can pull you away from your creativity. In terms of productivity, taking a break from your phone can aid the siren call if social media distractions like Instagram. It can also force you not to take in so much creative content from others to focus on your own.
Read a Book
Reading is hands down my favorite way to take a break from work intensity or creative ruts. There’s nothing quite like getting absorbed into a good book in one of your favorite genres. Pick up a book (an actual book with a cover, not a kindle or iPad) and read it….cover to cover. Allow yourself to become completely absorbed in what you’re reading (without your phone nearby to distract you). Talk about what you’ve read with your person, your friends, colleagues. See if there’s anything about the writing style or content that you can use as inspiration from your own work. You can also try reading books specifically about creativity like Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert or The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.
Watch a Film That’s On Your To-Watch List
With Netflix and other streaming apps at your finger tips, there’s so many inspirational films and documentaries you can watch to get a burst of inspiration from other creatives. Just be careful not to binge watch. Pick a film or documentary and watch it alone or with others. Discuss it after viewing. A few ideas on documentaries to watch include: Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Iris, Dior and I, Yarn, Love Between the Covers, The September Issue, Abstract: The Art of Design, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, A Chef’s Table.
Set Up a Coffee Date w/a Friend or Mentor
If you have a friend or mentor you haven’t seen in a while, schedule a coffee date to see what their up to. Try to choose someone who you find inspirational and ask them how they are doing. Focus on cultivating that friendship and learning by the positive habits your friend or mentor has that you may consider emulating.
Go to an Art Gallery of Museum
Taking in art and the creative outputs of others can also be a way to move through your creative rut. Get inspired by the work of others. If you’re in NYC, definitely check out the Frida Kahlo exhibit before it leaves the Brooklyn Museum in May!
Take some time to free write about whatever is on your mind in a “brain dump.” Recording all of this may allow you to mentally open up space to re-focus on your creative activities. You may have a kernel of an idea you can explore or you can simply write about worries that are on your mind to the point of distraction.
Indulge in Your Favorite Self-Care Practices
Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to mean taking a bubble bath if you’re not a bath person. But it can mean cooking yourself a nice meal, taking a nap, getting that cookie you’ve been craving, finishing your taxes, getting a pedicure, or an array of other things. Self-care can be practical or indulgent.
Take a Walk
Movement and exercise can sometimes give you a burst of inspiration or just make you feel a sense of accomplishment from doing some exercise. Put your sneakers on and take a walk (again, without your phone if possible!) and see how it makes you feel.
If walking isn’t your thing, try dancing. You can simply turn on some music in your home and dance it out. Or you can go out and dance in a class or even a club. Moving your body through dance is a way to activate your sacral chakra which is associated with creativity among many other things according to the Chakra System popularized in Ayurvedic traditions from India.