Creative outlets are essential escapes from mundanity and acts of self-expression. But what happens when you get stuck in a creative rut? How do you find the key to unlocking creative outlets when inspiration seems out of reach?
1. Expand Your Knowledge
Knowledge breeds curiosity and creativity. When you expose yourself to others’ work and expertise, you ask questions and develop unique solutions and opportunities. For example, you’ve probably heard of the advice to read more if you want to cultivate a compelling writing style. You can take inspiration from other authors and avoid pitfalls, generating an authorial voice that engages your intended audience.
Another adage you hear in all creative fields is: Learn the rules so you can break them. Familiarize yourself with practices like the Hero’s Journey, the Rule of Thirds, and complementary colors. Knowing the established principles in your chosen creative field will allow you to create projects that meet audience expectations while adding striking exceptions to the rules that move your audience. Additionally, these principles are always useful to return to when you feel your well of ideas has run dry.
Learning more about your creative outlet will also lead you to a community. You can join social media groups and workshops, receiving encouragement, advice, and constructive feedback. Wherever you find it, your community can help keep you accountable to your desired deadlines and act as a source of inspiration for your work.
You can fall into a rut anywhere in the creative process. It might take place in the early stages and look like hours of staring at a blank page, the blinking cursor seemingly taunting you. It might occur when you run into an unexpected challenge during your project, leaving you lost and unsure of how to proceed. Wherever you get stuck, it’s best to get comfortable with the concept that there are no bad ideas.
Brainstorming can be more than the first step in your project’s journey. It can be a fruitful method for unsticking yourself, and it can even be fun. It might seem impossible. After all, how do you brainstorm when you reach for ideas, and your mind draws a blank? The solution? Write down or try anything that comes to mind. It doesn’t have to qualify as a great idea in your book, but it will get the juices flowing. Let the initial brainstorming process be free form. You can analyze and implement the solutions later.
Figure out your favorite methods for brainstorming. You might prefer drawing mind maps and flowcharts, or you may want to spend reflective time journaling. When you do it, ease up on the pressure, and allow brainstorming to lead you out of your creative rut.
3. Play Games
Unlike what the tortured artist persona wants you to believe, joy and play can cultivate creativity. Board games and video games can teach you about strategy and adaptability, two crucial qualities for igniting creativity and sticking to creative projects. Playing an instrument encourages mind-and-muscle coordination. Pattern recognition activities can help you track motifs in stories and understand how music theory leads to interesting songs that move the listener and impact their emotional state.
You can also try out new creative activities to become unstuck on your current project. Even if you’re a writer with no experience in drawing, following online tutorials or doodling freehand can be stress-free ways to engage in self-expression. The great thing about this practice is that you don’t have to attach any stakes to the outcome. You can dance around your apartment, unharried by choreography or a watching audience (movement itself is also an excellent way to shake off sedentary hours stuck on your graphic design portfolio or thesis paper).
Many people experience heightened creativity and sharper focus when they consume certain cannabis products, especially those with a Sativa-strain. These strains tend to be more energizing than sedating, helping consumers clear away mental fog as they crack down on creative projects. However, it’s important to recognize that every person’s physiology and endocannabinoid systems, and tolerance levels are unique. An individual will experience different effects from the same cannabis item their friend consumes.
Depending on your location, you can visit a dispensary in person or have it delivered to your doorstep. If you live in the Southern California region, a San Diego dispensary can give you hassle-free access to quality flower, vapes, pre-rolls, edibles, and concentrates. If you want to explore using cannabis products to get out of a creative rut, carefully research which strains will lead to the desired effects. Additionally, talk to experts at the dispensary and research brands.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do when you’re stuck is rest. Creative ruts are often the result of burnout, and working harder won’t make them disappear. It’s okay to give your mind and body a complete break from work, even your creative passion projects. Well-being is essential to the creative process.