I stand on stage and talk about this. I can write about it with confidence. But even having lived 20 creative lives, there are roadblocks that inevitably show up. And they appear right when a project is nearing its end. This is how I feel about my new book. My thought process is that if you’re not sick of a project when it nears the end, you didn’t go deep enough.
So, what do we do when we’re stuck in a creative rut?
Today I’m joined by my good friend Christopher Jerard. As the current VP of Content Marketing at Outside Interactive Inc., he’s all too familiar with deadlines and the stress they can bring on. We’re going to dive into some tips and ideas about getting unstuck, especially when you’re getting close to the end of a project.
Know When Your Stuck
First things first. You’ve got to recognize when you’re stuck in the first place. It’s an integral part of the creative process. Acknowledge and accept these moments as a normal part of your creative journey. By embracing this understanding, you can navigate through the challenges with resilience and find ways to overcome the obstacles that may come your way. This ultimately leads to growth and progress in your creative pursuits.
I think Ryan Holiday said something really interesting. Runners don’t get runner’s block. They just keep running. After all, Forest Gump didn’t stop. So, when we feel stuck as writers, we can easily give in to the thought that we’re stuck. But we also have the choice to just keep going. I say, keep on writing. Write about whatever the heck is on your mind. That’s how we get past this.
Use A Personal Playbook
One of my strategies for breaking free from a creative rut is using a personal playbook. This is essentially a compilation of habits or practices that work effectively for me. I can rely on it any time I’m grappling with a creative roadblock. For example, meditation is an indispensable part of my routine. It sets the right mental tone for me to dive into my work. Another crucial habit is dedicating eight hours each night under the covers of my bed. While I may not always be asleep for the entire time, I remain under the covers. I practice gratitude and I’m conscious of my food and water intake daily.
These practices improve my overall well-being and productivity. But everyone’s personal playbook will be different. We’re all unique, with our own sets of interests, needs, and circumstances. So, the key is to experiment and discover the practices that resonate most with you. Your playbook should reflect your individuality. It should support your personal journey towards creative fulfillment.
Inject Some Play Into The Routine
Another approach to escape a creative rut is injecting some play into your routine. Play is often overlooked. However, it’s an incredibly powerful catalyst for unlocking creative energies. Think back to the activities you loved as a child. You can also just carve out some time every day for pursuits that bring you joy and pleasure. I think what Chris said rings true: the opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.
Adults tend to dismiss play as silly or childish. But, as National Geographic put it, having fun may be fundamental to the survival of our species. So, don’t view play as procrastination or the thief of time. Instead, see it as a unique tool. It’s almost a magical method of getting unstuck. After all, companies like Apple and Google wouldn’t exist if playfulness didn’t ignite the spark.
Reframe Your Perspective
Changing your viewpoint is powerful. Look at your work from a different perspective. See it through a different lens. It’s amazing how a slight shift in viewpoint can make the familiar seem fresh and exciting. Ryan Holiday often talks about the concept of acceptance in stoicism and Buddhism. It’s about acknowledging things as they are, rather than how we want them to be. Letting go of expectations allows us to focus on the reality in front of us. We then find the freedom to reflect. We can breathe and respond thoughtfully. So, next time you feel stuck, remember to shift your perspective and embrace the power of acceptance. You might just find your way out of that rut.
Share Your Struggle
It can feel incredibly isolating to be creatively stuck. One of the most powerful ways to combat that isolation is to share your struggle. Talk openly about it with people you trust, like close friends or mentors. This is a game changer. Sometimes, the simple act of expressing your frustrations can help lighten the load. It’s like letting out a breath you didn’t realize you were holding.
And often, it’s in these moments of vulnerability that fresh insights come to light. Your friend might offer a perspective you hadn’t considered. Your mentor might share a similar experience that sparks a new idea. So, share your struggle. You might be surprised at the power of a fresh perspective.
Reset Your Routine
Sometimes, even small changes can make a big difference. If your current routine isn’t serving you, switch things up. Maybe you need more sleep. Perhaps you’re spending too much time on a particular aspect of your project. The rhythm of your work matters. A slight adjustment could be all it takes to get your creative juices flowing again. The important thing is to find what works for you.
But let’s not stop there. Consider your tools and resources. Your platform matters too. These often overlooked elements can greatly impact your creative process. For example, as a photographer in a rut, switching between digital and film cameras could reignite your passion. Similarly, as a writer, transitioning from a laptop to pen and paper might offer a fresh perspective and a wave of inspiration.
Escape Your Creative Rut: In Closing
I had a blast today with Christopher Jerard as we’ve explored strategies to reignite your creative spark. Escaping a rut is vital for sustaining creativity. So, experiment with these techniques to help you find fresh inspiration. Remember to accept the feeling of being stuck. It’s all part of the creative process. Change can be the catalyst you need, so embrace it. Remember, if you’re not tired of a project as it nears completion, you likely didn’t delve deep enough. So, when you hit that next creative block, keep pushing forward. Your creativity is needed more than ever.