There is nothing more frustrating than being in a creative rut.
It makes anyone who considers themselves a creative feel useless and unworthy.
A writer who can’t write? A painter who can’t paint? A sculptor who can’t sculpt? If you consider yourself an artist or a creative person in general, feeling uninspired is heart wrenching.
As a writer, I grapple with this dilemma more often than I’d like to admit. As I become more practiced, however, I’ve found ways to persevere through creative ruts.
1. Try something new.
I will try anything, as long as it’s new. I find that trying things that have nothing to do with writing inspire me the most. Writer Paulo Coelho once said, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine…it is lethal.”
His words are what first encouraged me to change my routine when I’m feeling uninspired.
After I’ve tried something new, I often feel inspired by the experience I’ve just had. This past winter, I was feeling so stagnant in my writing. I headed out for a hike in snow that was nearly knee deep. I found myself alone in the woods, seeing life thrive in the snow.
This experience renewed my energy and gave me a new perspective. Doing something new threw a creative wrench in my routine, and I returned from my hike with an invigorated sense of my place in the world, the beauty around me, and a sense of purpose in my creative pursuits.
2. Research other creatives.
Stay away from books that claim to “guide you through” creative ruts. I’ve made this mistake more than once, hoping that someone would give me the answers. Unfortunately, renewing creativity is never that easy.
Instead, I turn to artists who inspire me.
Markus Zusak is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read all of his stories, read interviews, and sought out articles on his writing. Learning more about him has allowed me to put more faith in the creative within myself. I always try to remember that the voice within me once said, “You should create.” I want to be inspired by those who also heard that within themselves.
3. Revisit your favorite work.
When I’m feeling frustrated by a piece of writing I can’t seem to get quite right, I revisit works I’m particularly proud of. I think about what inspired me to create them—and even the audience I’ve shared it with. At times, I even find myself saying, “Wow, I wrote this!”
Revisiting old work can remind every creative person about why we pursued a creative path in the first place. I’ve found that this is a great way to renew my inner confidence and begin (or finish) a new creative pursuit.
4. Talk about It.
As creatives, we feel so ashamed when things aren’t flowing. This isn’t a topic of conversation any of us enjoy. Despite the general hesitation to keep our creative ruts to ourselves, it is a common experience in every creative community.
As I’ve matured in my own pursuit of quality writing, I’ve sought the ears and opinions of other writers. I’ve reached out to college writing friends and even professors for feedback. I’ve found that this stops me from feeling so isolated. In addition, I also end up receiving great feedback that can push me through a creative rut.
The reality is that it won’t last.
Creative ruts don’t last, even if they feel like they might. While it is difficult to see through the confusion that comes with feeling uninspired, it helps us all to become a more disciplined artist. I always try to remember that even if I’m in a creative rut, whatever I create next will be awesome!
Author: R.R. Noall
Image: Instagram @elephantjournal
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Caitlin Oriel