Today I’m blogging about something that I just know a lot of us will be experiencing, especially in lockdown 3.0. The creative or just a more general ‘rut’. It’s something that’s so prevalent right now I felt it deserved a whole email, a series of Instagram stories, an Instagram live chat and now this blog post!
I have no doubt that if you’re reading this you’ll have been in some kind of creative rut recently. At the moment we’re stuck with a lot of repetition, constraints and gloomy news that are all perfect conditions for a rut to take hold. But how do we know when we’re in one and more importantly what can we do to get out of it again?
How do you know you’re in a rut?
Ok brace yourself because I’m going to give you a list here and should you find yourself ticking everything off – don’t panic! Facing things can be the best way to start tackling them so we’re going to look at the list of ‘rut’ symptoms and let that fire us up to do something about it! We often don’t realise we’re in a creative rut until something triggers us to question when the last time was that we actually made the effort to do something nice for ourselves that gave us boost of positivity.
I’m going to challenge you to try and think of that now. And if you want to go a step further think about how it felt to do something good for yourself. Has it been a while? If it has you might be experiencing one of more of the symptoms below:
- You don’t feel like you have much to look forward to (made even more tricky during a pandemic!)
- It feels like your creative juices have dried up (lovely image isn’t it!)
- When you have free time you feel too tired or demotivated to do anything interesting
- You’re bored of being dissatisfied but you’re not motivated enough to change it.
- the days are blurring into one – who even cares what day it is because they’re all the same!
- You feel like you’re paralysed when you think about taking action – think not being able to get off the sofa or stop your thumb from scrolling to infinity on Instagram or even worse TikTok!
Is it my mental health or is it just a rut?
One thing I do want to emphasise is being stuck in a rut and needing to tackle mental health issues are 2 different things. Your mental health might benefit from doing the work to get out of a rut but ultimately even if you’re doing everything you can you might still need additional professional support and advice to tackle mental health issues first. In my experience it was once I started the work to improve my mental health and after reaching out to get help that I was able to then focus on getting out of my creative rut.
Is there another block that’s stopping you get started?
When we’re stuck in a rut we often already know in theory what to do to get out of it. If we’re feeling restless in the house we know that getting out for even a short walk could give us a boost but getting out of the door might feel really hard. Especially in winter. In theory we know what to do in practice it’s a lot harder and we often hold ourselves back for reasons we don’t even realise. It could be as simple as not having the materials or it could be something more deep rooted in self beliefs such as being fixated on perfectionism rather than the process or comparing your creative efforts with others.
It might even be that deep rooted belief that because you aren’t traditionally ‘artistic’ you can’t be creative. Whatever it is there will be a way to overcome it and once you’re aware of where the block is coming from you’re much more prepared to deal with it.
5 Things to Try to Get Out of a Creative Rut
1. Journal to get to the root of the problem
Like free therapy it can help you to really pin point what it is that’s stopping you from getting started and help you tackle some of those deep rooted feelings that are causing your rut. Once you know what the cause is and where you think you need to make changes you can take informed action that will be more effective than if you’re just trying things randomly that aren’t really relevant to you.
2. Get creative with someone else
Creative activities can be a wonderful way to connect to new people and communities and for some people being creative with others is a chance to spend quality time with each other. If you have someone you live with that is interested in trying something creative why not take the opportunity to teach them. You never know – you might get them so into it that you both
But even if you live alone or with someone that isn’t so interested in pursuing creativity there are still lots of ways you can connect to others online. You can find communities using hashtags and search for groups on Facebook. You might even get involved with a monthly challenge where you’re encouraged to practice your creative activity daily to express yourself and improve your skill.
3. Try something new
Sometimes we need a bit of new-ness to add some excitement and get our creative juices flowing again. Often there’s something quite exciting and inspiring about that initial learning curve when we pick up something new and it’s a time when we often make a lot of progress with our skill which can provide that reward that will keep us going.
We often get into a rut because we aren’t doing anything new we’re just repeating things over and over so by doing something new you’re breaking the cycle and changing it up which can be a great mood booster.
4. Make it ‘low-commitment’
Let’s be realistic here – if your creative hobby is going to require you to get lots of equipment out that’s going to take over a room in your house (possible multiple rooms) and then take ages to clean up and put away again – how often are you going to do it if you’re trying to fit it into an already busy life? It’s a bigger barrier than you probably realise but when you have something that isn’t as much commitment that can be easily put away or picked up at a moments notice you’re more likely to grab it when inspiration strikes and not be thinking so much about the inevitable clean up.
5. Work with a Mentor
Sometimes we need the support of someone to get going again. Similar to journaling but with the bonus of having an actual human focussing on us and asking purposeful questions, a mentor will get you thinking differently questioning your beliefs, discussing goals and and encouraging positive action. Basically it’s having someone to cheer you on and motivate you to keep going? What more could you want?!
And choosing to work on something and focus on it with the help of someone else is almost a guaranteed winner. We’re showing a commitment to something which will spur us on to act and we’ve put our accountability in place ourselves which is a powerful indicator of our desire to succeed in getting out of a creative rut.
If want the benefit of having your own creative productive mentor I’m now taking on one:one clients and at the moment I’m offering a special promotion for Galentines Day where you can get a 45 minute 1:1 mentoring call with me absolutely free!