Harnessing Creativity in a Rut

harnessing creativity in a rut

I am perpetually bad about succumbing to a rut (just like I am kind of bad at quitting things). Ruts frustrate me. They make me angry. And perhaps other disciplines and industries have ruts, too, but I think creative ruts are particularly painful because of the way in which creatives identify with their creations. Famous poets often refer to their poems as their children. Authors are sad when their characters die. I am afraid of ruts -- which leads to anger -- because it makes me worried that one day I will no longer be able to string words together in a meaningful way. One day, the rut will stay forever and I will never have a good idea ever again. 

Of course, that's not true. That's the rut talking. So, I've come up with a strategy. A war plan for which things get, well, rutty. And I thought you might like it, too. 

Try a new discipline. 

For a while now I've been painting. I'm not gifted in it (yet!) and I have no natural inclination toward it. But, I've always been jealous of fine artists and I wanted to try (here are some of my favorites! 1, 2, 3). It's been an awesome experience because I've been meditating on and considering thoughts I want to put into picture instead of words and in some ways, those thoughts do come out of me. It encourages thought, and a new kind of thought at that. It's been instrumental in my creativity lately. 

Take a dang walk. 

This one is big for me. I tell Summer and Liv all the time that when I get in a rut, I will be cranky and want to stay in my bed all day long. Rather than allow me to do this, they need to bust down the door of my apartment, hand me my camera, and force me to explore the city. Traveling is one of my greatest sources of inspiration and when I'm stuck in a routine, the rut comes crashing in on me. So, I fake travel. I explore my own city in a way I haven't before. It trains my eye to look for something new and exciting. In London a few years ago, I was obsessed with doors, light fixtures, and all things in threes. I try and recreate that as a last resort. 

Get online. 

Technology can be tricky for me. I have an obsessive personality anyway, so I have to be super careful with my phone and computer. But sometimes, I need to look around for inspiration. What are others doing in your field? What are others in another field doing? Who is disrupting the market? Be careful not to fall into a plagiarism trap or fall prey to the comparison game. Just look around for beauty. This is essentially like number two, but without leaving your house. :) 


What do you guys do when you get in a rut? I'd love to add to my list!