Recently I’d been feeling a little uninspired. You know how it is – you get a few months into the year, the excitement of a fresh start is over, the new years resolutions have drifted slightly to the back of your mind, and all those exciting ideas and plans you had seem further away than you’d hoped. You want to feel motivated, inspired, creative, but you just… don’t. Well, I found myself well and truly at this stage, and I fell deep into the hole of a creative rut…
Working full-time as a Stylist and blogging and sharing content on Instagram in my spare time, I find it’s sometimes hard to maintain the level of creativity I’d like to. It’s easy to slip into routines at work, fall out of routines on social media and suddenly feel out of the loop. I love my job and I love creating content for my blog and Instagram, but I got to a stage of feeling uninspired. I felt like all of the photos I was taking weren’t good enough, I lost motivation to pursue new ideas, and as I scrolled down my Instagram feed day after day, I felt less and less like posting. I couldn’t understand it, because I knew this was what I wanted to do and it’s something I’d usually enjoy doing, but I’d just lost that spark.
So, over the past few weeks I set out to get myself out of the creative rut. I can honestly say that I feel like I’m getting back on track now, which is such a relief! The whole thing just made me wonder what other people do to keep themselves motivated and inspired. So I thought I’d write down all of the things that I think helped me, and share them with you in the hope that if you ever feel uninspired or you just need some words of reassurance, this might help.
So… here it is!
MY 10 WAYS TO GET OUT OF A CREATIVE RUT:
1. It’s Okay To Take a Break
If you have the luxury of time, which I know not everyone does when in a creative rut (those of you with deadlines, I feel your pain!), I think one of the best things you can do is just take a break. I’ve found that whenever you try to force something, it’s never your best work. Remind yourself that these things happen, we can’t all be productive 100% of the time, and sometimes in order to find your creativity you need to take time, step away and come back to it when you have a better mindset.
I started by taking myself away from social media and my blog for a while. It seemed counter-productive at first, since the main issue with being in a creative rut was that I wanted to post more but couldn’t, but I do think taking a break helped. We live in a world of social media where we’re almost expected to constantly publish our daily lives. In order to be “successful” you’re told you have to be consistent – to keep creating, keep posting, maintain a high standard. But I’m sure other bloggers and creatives will agree with me when I say, this can take the fun out of it sometimes.
Admittedly I often fall into the trap of feeling guilty for not starting that project I told myself I’d do, or not posting on Instagram every day, then I wonder… why am I stressing myself out about something I’m supposed to enjoy? To be honest, this is a subject I could talk so much more about (future blog post, maybe?) but I’ve realised that it’s important to disconnect sometimes. Put the phone down, walk away from the project you’ve been rattling your brains over, switch off for a while and let your mind relax.
2. De-stress and Self Care
Following on from taking a break, use this time for a bit of self-care! I’m definitely a bit of a stress-head – I’ve always been a worrier and over-thinker, and I’m becoming more aware of the importance of managing stress and looking after yourself. The first thing I do when I find myself in a creative rut and feel stressed or agitated, is make myself a brew (a cuppa Yorkshire tea and a biscuit makes everything better, right!?) You’ll know yourself what usually makes you feel that bit better – whether that’s taking a long bath, or reading a good book – anything that relaxes your body and takes your mind off things for a while.
If you read one of my previous blog posts Tidy Bedroom, Tidy Mind, you’ll also know how helpful I think it can be to tidy the space around you in order to clear your mind. Even when I was in school I struggled to concentrate on my homework if my room was a mess. Tidy your room or your workspace so that when you decide to start there are no distractions and you’re in a space where you feel calm.
3. Small Differences
Making small differences in your every day life can make a big difference when it comes to breaking a creative rut! I often find it’s when I’m stuck in the same old daily routine that I lack inspiration and creativity. These changes can be something as simple as trying new recipes for your dinner, or, if you’re a night owl like me, getting up for work that bit earlier so you have time to relax and enjoy breakfast in the morning.
For years I’ve spent my mornings listening to Radio 1 while I’m getting ready, or in the car on my way to work. Recently I decided to switch out the radio for podcasts instead. (If you’re interested – I’ve been listening to Fearne Cotton’s ‘Happy’, TED Talks, and last weekend listened to Alice Catherine and Sophia Rosemary’s new ‘On the Outskirts’ podcast. Always open to recommendations if you have any!) Even though it’s only a small change and doesn’t affect my daily schedule etc., I’ve found it’s such a good start to the day. Listening to people discuss topics you’re interested in is funnily enough a lot more inspiring than listening to the same chart music that’s played on repeat!
4. Change Of Scenery
This is the advice my boyfriend usually gives me when I say I’m stressed out or feel unmotivated – although his response is usually met by me rolling myself into a duvet cocoon of stress and saying “I don’t want to go anywhere!”. He always says getting out of the house helps and makes you feel better and, of course, he’s right. Even if it’s just going on a walk or taking the dog out, sometimes you just need to get away from whatever place you’ve been torturing yourself in whilst trying to break free from the rut!
This doesn’t have to be just being outdoors – go somewhere new or meet up with friends or family. For me, going back up north for the weekend to see my friends and family allows me to take my mind off things and just enjoy their company for a few days, so I can come back feeling refreshed and ready to restart.
Anyone that knows me will know I rarely stop talking. I know it’s not good to always complain about things, but when you find yourself in a creative rut I think it can help so much to vent to someone. Explaining your situation, telling them how you feel and asking for advice will make you feel like you’re not alone in this, whilst sharing ideas and getting new perspectives from someone who hasn’t been going over and over the subject for days or weeks can really help with inspiration. It can be particularly useful to talk to like-minded people who you can bounce ideas off – so if you’re a blogger in a creative rut, talk to other bloggers, see what they do when they’re in this situation and come up with ideas to help each other!
6. Keep Learning
This is one of my favourite steps to reignite your creativity and feel motivated! Inspiration can come from anywhere – you’ve just got to look for it. I think no matter how much you research something or work on it, there’s always more to learn. Find new ideas in art, in science, by visiting places you’ve never been to before or watching films you’ve never seen before. Take inspiration from other artists and creatives, but make it your own.
As someone who’s grown up watching all of the films on video or DVD that I could get my hands on, and listening to all of the songs I could fit on my iPod at one time, I’ve always found inspiration from cinema and music. Whether it be the costume design, or the cinematography, I often find myself picking up on things and thinking “wow! I’d love to do something like that…” I’m trying to remind myself now to make notes of any little ideas or moments of inspiration like this – so you can refer to them when you need new content.
7. Don’t Compare
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. I’m going to say it one more time for the people in the back. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO ANYONE ELSE! I know this can be so difficult in the creative industries and in the world of social media. We follow people who we admire, maybe who aspire to be, who’s Instagram feeds seem too perfect to be human. There are our mutual friends or followers, who’s lives can appear more interesting than yours does, when they’re out having a wild weekend with friends while you’re sat in your pyjamas on the sofa re-watching old episodes of that TV show you’ve seen a million times. But remind yourself that your journey is your own. People only tend to share the parts of their lives that look good – and you’ve probably heard it before, but remember, don’t compare your every day life, to someone else’s highlights reel. This applies to both your social and work life – don’t compare the start of your journey to the successes of someone else’s.
8. Make a Start
It’s always the hardest bit, but once you’ve had some down time, start thinking about what you want to do. Write a to-do list, make notes, write down ideas etc. then start – take it step by step, don’t take on the to-do list all at once.
When I was at university I always found that after writing the title, the first paragraph of an essay was the hardest. A lecturer once told me to write the bits I could do first, then go back and write the beginning. It actually made sense, because before I was trying to tell the reader what I was going to write about before I even knew exactly what that was. After writing the essay, I could go back and write an introduction that suddenly flowed easily. I try and use this method now wherever I can, when starting a project or creating something – do the bits you can do, or the bits you enjoy first, then the rest will follow.
9. Creativity Doesn’t Mean Perfection
This is just a small reminder from a perfectionist. In my experience, a lot of creative people are perfectionists. We pour our hearts into our work and our art, and you become your own biggest critic. If you’re a perfectionist, remember what you share doesn’t always have to be perfection. It can be great to share your progress, and even help others along the way.
I think one of the main reasons why I ended up in a creative rut in the first place was because I’d been thinking about doing a blog post for a long time, but when I came to create it, it wasn’t as ‘perfect’ as I’d pictured. I took photos that I wasn’t really happy with and wrote words that didn’t feel meaningful to me, and I ended up hating the whole thing. Looking back, I realised I was trying too hard to force what I thought people wanted to hear. I wanted to be able to say that I had the answer, but I didn’t. I’m now planning to share the journey of what I’ve learnt so far, accepting that it doesn’t have a perfect ending, and I’m looking forward to that much more! (no spoilers yet, but keep your eyes peeled!)
10. Mix It Up, Be Spontaneous and Enjoy Yourself!
My last bit of advice relates to the photos I’ve shared throughout this post. After feeling stressed about trying and failing to write the blog post that I talked about in my previous point, this shoot came as a breath of fresh air.
I’d ordered a few bits off Mango, and one morning when I’d woken up earlier than usual before work, I decided to try them on. I loved this orange polka dot dress so much that I didn’t want to take it off, and so I wore it to work (it’s not often I wear dresses to work haha, I’m usually a black jeans or checked trousers kind of gal). I had a great day, then after work my boyfriend Dave and I nipped into the local town centre and decided to take some snaps in the warm low sun. The shoot was totally unplanned, but so fun, we played around with different locations and I had a little dance in the sleepy streets at sunset.
This shoot reminded me that sometimes the best things aren’t planned. As I mentioned earlier, creativity just doesn’t work when you force it. Looking back through the shots when we got home, I felt excited and inspired, and suddenly that previously dwindling flame of creativity lit a spark.
Be spontaneous, don’t do everything according to plan, try new things and most of all enjoy yourself!!
So that’s it, my 10 Ways to Get Out of a Creative Rut! As always, this post has turned out to be a lot longer than I’d planned haha! But it’s actually been quite therapeutic for me. So if you’ve found yourself lacking creativity or motivation lately, or wanted to know how to be more productive, I hope this has helped! I’ll be looking back at this as a reminder to myself whenever I feel uninspired or just need that push.
Hope you have a lovely weekend – whether you’re taking time out to relax, or getting in the creative zone!