How To: 10 ways to get out of a creative rut

posted on: Saturday, 28 March 2015


So, imagine this. Your day job is to create 365 interesting stories a year. Each day that goes by needs to have seen an earth shattering good idea come from your brain and put down on the page for the whole world to see. No pressure right? Well, this is a life for many a writer. We sit and stare at the page, or computer screen and wait for lightning to strike. Only sometimes, lightning doesn't strike just for the sake of it. Sometimes we all find ourselves in the famous creative rut.
     
Everyone has their own ways for escaping the dreaded creative rut, or writer's block. But, I have found that these 10 solutions kick a creative drought in the rear, and they work every time. If you're finding yourself creatively empty, try these 10 ways to get out of a creative rut. 

1. Public Transport
I can already feel you wondering how on earth I'm going to turn riding a bus into a glamourous way of breaking through a creative rut. I can't speak for all cities, but I can say that in London, when I find myself struggling with creativity, the first thing I do is grab my transport card and head for the top of a double decker bus. I always jump on the first one coming by, at the end of my street (convenient), and I sit at the top, in the very front seats. I take a pad of paper and a pen with me and I sit and watch as London goes by ahead, below, above and around me. There is something about this city that has always lit a fire in me, to work harder, play harder, try harder and ultimately be as creative as any bone in my body will allow me. Being in the thick of London, here atop an iconic red bus, makes that all real and right in front of me. 

2. Changing your workspace
I am a firm believer in the idea of refreshing your workspace. If you find your creativity slipping as you sit in your office, perhaps it's slipping because the space itself lacks any imagination at all. If you surround yourself with inspiring art work, prints, photographs, letters, articles and more, you are surrounding yourself with creative energy. Oh yes, I just went there. Put your workspace into an arrangement that inspires you and the idea of a creative rut will be a thing of great mystery. Even changing something as simple as your chair can completely transform your approach to creating.


3. Pinterest / Instagram
You had to know I was going to mention social media here in discussing creative ruts and how to get out of them. I find I look at Pinterest and Instagram for ages these days, trying to get a worldview on trends, patterns in fashion, food, art and more. The world has become a pretty small space in the course of a very short span of time. Each of these social networks allows you to browse randomly or narrow down your field for inspiration. I find that looking through the hashtags #foodporn and #ootd get my creative juices flowing asap. You'll be amazed at the different ways in which people view the world. Hey, it could even shift your own perspective on humanity and cause a creative explosion! 

4. Walk, run or hula-hoop
There seems to be at least one movie a year where we see some big shot business owner running on his/her treadmill and working the day away. They say our best ideas come from moments where our body is pushed to the limit. So, when it comes to working out, no matter how you do it, it's a brain awakener. I reckon FFG has had most concepts created while pounding the pavement over the years. But, pick your poison. It could be running, trampolining or hula-hooping, just as long as you're moving. Stand up, walk away from your computer and call those legs into action to beat the rut.

5. Movies
It might sound ridiculous, but there have been many a day when I have shut the laptop and switched on the telly. I've put in an old classic or a new release and allowed my brain to just relax. It's sort of a like a massage for the grey matter. 

6. Old Memories
This one's a bit tougher and will depend on your age. If you're in your late twenties and above, I think you'll just have made the grade. The reason I say this is because it seems like it's been a good decade now since we stopped printing pictures. So, telling you to dig deep into your pile of old photographs can be tough if you don't have any. But, if you do... the world's your oyster. I love looking through pictures of good times gone bye, or even opening up my parent's bag of memories to examine a life led before I was even created. There's something about the action of physically flipping through memories that can really trigger something in us all. Now, if no box of photographs, throw back there to my social media suggestion.

7. The telephone
When was the last time you called a friend? We all live in the world of WhatsApp and Facebook where our only interaction is written. Have an hour long conversation with a friend or family member you haven't spoken to in a while. You have no idea what might spark your creativity and kill the rut. 

9. Meditation
A while ago now I wrote about an app called Headspace. It's an easy iPhone app that allows for anyone to learn to meditate and it's damn exciting. I was never into meditation, but now it's a daily part of my day and I swear it's actually made my brain bigger somehow. After meditation it's like a cloud has been lifted and you'll feel like your creative rut was in itself a gateway to something more miraculous. 

10. Coffee shops
This may sound ridiculous, but, when I'm in a creative rut, the first place I head is my local coffee shop. Have you noticed how coffee places that offer wifi have become the new remote office? Just being in the presence of other mobile workplace magicians makes my creative juices flow. It also helps that coffee is at the ready for moments when you're feeling slumped in your creative process. Truly, being around other freelancers can really help the situation. There's something about seeing so many other people getting stuff done that makes me work even harder and faster. 

Hope this helps!! Don't worry, creativity is always just around the corner. 

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