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How to break out of a creative rut

Jan. 10, 2018
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Hey, creatives: remember when you were just a newbie to your craft? Everything was new, exciting, and a cycle of “trial and error”. When you got inspiration, you would get a rush of it: tons of ideas tossed themselves in your brain, waiting to be organized and released. You kept working, and working, until you found your groove. Your personal style. This seems great, right? You finally know what you’re doing, after all!  

Except, of course, on the days you get stuck.

The unfortunate downside of your great groove is that you only dance to one rhythm. As a creator, as a person, stability is great, but being stagnant is not. You will always be you; your personal style will still exist. The tricky part is putting a twist on the “expected”. 

If you’re stuck in a creative rut, here are some ways to force a new perspective on your work.

Binge-watch everything

Watch an entire season of the popular show you missed, watch a bunch of YouTube videos, explore Instagram, read articles, or check out blogs. This may seem counterproductive, but it’s actually a method to help boost your creativity. Taking in a lot of inspiration will allow your mind to fill with ideas. It’s like charging before you use up your energy.

Talk to people

Life is filled with experiences. Since we ourselves can only experience so much, sometimes we are able to learn from the experiences of others. You can talk with strangers or friends; you can talk about everything and nothing at all. After all, don’t we all feel better after a great conversation?

Connect with colleagues

Have a discussion with other creatives: you can ask them what they are up to or discuss the current trends and the future of your field. Talking with colleagues is a good way to connect with like-minds, as well as expose yourself to people who may have a different interpretation than you. This can widen your perspective and give you more to reflect on—and a wider perspective means you have more points of reference when analyzing a situation or expressing your art.

Pretend it’s Opposite Day

This one is very simple: just do what you typically don’t. When you catch yourself at a crossroads or find yourself about to do what you normally do, create an alternative. This can be a bit difficult, especially if you have a personal style already. One tip: use the very next thing to pop into your mind as a new starting point. Get every idea out. A few not-so-great, silly ideas can lead to those one-in-a-million, billion-dollar ideas.

Take a break

Don’t be afraid to stop what you are doing and start again later. Your brain just needs a moment to breathe at times. Once you take a break, after all, new ideas may surface. In case inspiration finds you during your time away, make sure to have a pen and paper, your phone, or a way to record your inspiration on hand. Recalling what creative direction you were headed towards will be much easier if you make a note about the inspiration.

Let go of your goals

Okay, this one sounds pretty scary, but hear us out. When starting new projects, most of us usually try to predetermine the outcomes, but that can also keep you from realizing an unexpected type of potential. Granted, there are times where this kind of focus is an advantage: aiming for an outcome helps achieve the outcome, after all. But if you’re feeling stuck, let go of your plans and just go with the flow. Enjoyable and fulfilling ideas come from exploring your world. The spontaneous desire to seek a new perspective in creative work opens doors to game-changing creations.