How to Get Out of a Creative Rut

Lately I’ve been feeling stagnant to the max. Words flow thick like concrete when I sit down to write, and the images I shoot look static and dull to my eyes. To add insult to injury, the harder I push myself to create, the worse everything gets! I think it’s safe to say that in the ebb and flow that is the creative process, I’m very much wallowing in the ebb. In a recent effort to vent a little, I opened up about the situation on Instagram. In addition to getting plenty of commiseration (it’s comforting to know I’m not alone!), I received tons of fantastic tips on how to get out of a creative rut. They were so good, in fact, that I thought I’d share them with you here. Because hey, when you’re feeling blocked, the best gift of all is a blog post that practically writes itself!

butterfly chair via @citysage

Plenty of folks advised putting down your tools and stepping back from the problem, with so many suggestions for self-imposed timeouts!

“I find I get into a routine and am in autopilot, which makes me feel creatively dull. I watch videos on NOWNESS, go to museum or galleries, watch films, and generally just get out of my head and into a different space or medium.” – Sassy Kitchen

“When I get into a funk, I clear some time for a little pampering and soul-care. Relaxing into a hot, salty bath, a face mask, and treating my skin with natural oils helps reset my mind!” – Precious Skin Elixers

“Go to a different city or town. Poke around in all the weird spots and remember that the world is a big place.” – Sarah Thomsen

“Hang out with little kids. Have them do their thing with your stuff. Their brains know no bounds.” – T.S. Roberts

“Go to the movies alone.” – Nathan Michael

simple midcentury living room via @citysage

Others suggested digging deeper, rather than putting down the shovel:

“When I know I need a day off to recharge but can’t take one, I hack the system. Buy a lavender latte. Send five emails to people you’re excited about (collaborators! friends! your mom!). Plan something you’re excited about (a project! an idea! a trip!). Works every time. Sometimes we try to solve creative blocks by pulling our energy back and cooling our jets, but I also think it’s just as helpful to pour on a few passionate coals!” – Erin Loechner

“I’ve found that just giving myself permission to explore and be creative wasn’t enough; rethinking what is it that I’m looking for in my life—and [identifying] the steps to get there—has helped me get moving. It’s still a work in progress, but each time I answer one of my questions I feel a bit more energized.” – Ana Carneiro Design

moody ocean waves via @citysage

And still others offered the wisdom of acceptance and patience:

“A long walk or a short trip to a nearby town or neighborhood you never go to. Return to your senses and observe/enjoy taste touch smell sight sound rather than attempting to create. Maybe you’re not block so much as in need of something else. There’s a time for the trees to be bare of leaves. Creativity and expression has seasons just like everything else!” – Marie Witt

“Sometimes acknowledging your rut is half the battle. It’s like telling the universe that you’re ready for more creativity, like you’ve made space for it. I know it sounds super hippy dippy, but I got that kind of perspective from reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. It did my creativity wonders!” – Lindsay Binette

“I’ve found its best to accept the ebb and know it’ll flow again!” – Lucinda

hawaii via @citysage

Can you relate? Do any of these tips resonate with you? What do you do when you’re feeling blocked at work or at home? Head to the original Instagram post for more great tips on how to get out of a creative rut—and to contribute your own. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Images via the practically perfect Instagram feed of Nicole Franzen.