7 Ways to Break Free from a Creative Rut

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There will be a lot of times when you feel like nothing is inspiring you. It could last an hour, a day, or even weeks, and it gets you like quicksand.

Yesterday, like many other days was a struggle for me. I woke up in a good mood and was feeling ready to conquer the world. However, something happened. Just like that, all my inspiration went away; and my motivation, kaput. I just felt like lying down and stare at the ceiling. At the same time, I was feeling guilty for not doing anything. This time was a mild one. But I entertained the feeling, and it clung like a leech. It sucked the life out of me. It almost took me the whole of the day to get back on track.

When you are in a rut, it’s difficult to be creative and much more become focused on what you need to do. When you are stuck, life stops, and all the negative energies and thoughts take front and center.

During these times, how can you stay motivated and creative?

1. Move your body

Whether it is walking, running, swimming, jumping, doing some exercise or simply dancing along with the song playing on Spotify, moving allows your blood to flow faster and it reaches your brain faster. Guess what I usually do? Yep, I dance. The more upbeat and current, the better. Find your groove and move with it.

2. Take a Hot Shower

Taking a hot (or warm) shower is always a good idea if you are feeling cold and down. The constant gentle force of the hot water flowing down to your head and then your body will allow you to calm down slowly. The feeling of the warm water as it massages your neck is so relaxing, and for some mysterious reason, the shower is an excellent way to declutter your mind. Heck, great ideas a born from it.

3. Meditate

Daily life is fast-paced. There are always trains to catch and deadlines to meet. Your attention is pulled in all directions, and your focus is stuck in an endless loop of distractions. Meditation helps you slow down. It helps you evaluate and acknowledge your pains and your feelings. Through meditation, you can accept what it is and live with the flow. After a good meditation session, you will feel relaxed and refreshed, ready to take the next step. However, everyone will have a different pace. Meditating is a mental exercise and the more you do it, the better the returns and the faster you will be back on track.

4. Be grateful

When you are stuck in a rut, you only focus on the negative things that are happening. These will likely be some of your questions:

  • Why are things not happening as planned?
  • What am I doing wrong?
  • Why is this happening to me?

However, you need to stop feeding the negative thoughts. Even though being grateful is the least you will be, this is what you need to do. First and foremost, you are alive, and that is a great thing! You will likely have a stable job or a family that supports you. You will probably have friends that you can rely on. You may have some things that others don’t. And even if you don’t have some of those, there will always be something to be grateful for. When you are grateful, you celebrate positivity, and you start to become more motivated to move on and move forward.

5. Find inspiration

The things in front of you stop to be interesting for various reasons, and you need to find some inspiration elsewhere. You can go for a stroll in the park, or look through some books in the bookstore. You can browse through Pinterest or Instagram for good lettering pieces or amazing travel photos. Even if you are not sure what you are looking for, when you go through this aimlessly, there will be moments that can trigger an inspiration. It may be a random sign on the road, a place you previously visited, or an experience you miss. Inspiration will strike outside your routine.

6. Start doing something

Get comfortable and be present in the moment. Get a pen and paper, and start making lines and circles randomly. Write anything that comes out of your mind. It could be some words or images that you are thinking about at that moment.

When you start drawing on the paper, even without much direction, you are allowing your mind to wander. You are allowing your brain to connect dots and find its way to bring you a spark of inspiration. Sometimes, you just have to start even if you are not sure how. Put your pen to paper, and start writing. You will be amazed at how effective it is.

7. Remember the vision and rekindle the passion

Lastly, and the most important of all, remember your purpose. Remember the first day when you said you want to achieve something. Remember the happiness and the enthusiasm you felt and fight for it. Remember why you are doing what you need to do. Whether it is achieving a goal for someone or following your dreams, fight for it. Let the memory of when you started, fuel your motivation and bring you out of the creative rut.

Breaking free

For me, it is a constant learning process, and these seven ways have helped me countless times as I continue to pursue daily lettering and writing.

A lot of these tips listed above doesn’t seem to address the problem head on, but they are essential in getting yourself out of the dark. I’d like to call it as purposeful procrastination. Even if you are not taking concrete steps towards your creative path, these will help you sort out your thoughts and feelings, and remain grounded in your purpose.

You may find that these tips may not help the first time around. If that happens, don't force it. Let your mind rest with the information you gathered. Work with the flow. Let your mind relax, and let your subconscious work its magic in its own time. Do what you can today, and let tomorrow be better than today. The negative feelings today will end, and tomorrow the sun will shine once more.