From the Interns – Five Tips for Getting Out of Your Creative Rut

Published: July 11, 2018

by Rachel Hughes and Elsye Jones

Feel like your creativity has run dry? We’ve all been there. But don’t worry; we’ve collected some tips and tricks to getting your inspiration fountain back to its bubbly, overflowing self. We asked all of the bright creatives in our office a simple question: “What do you do when you get into a creative rut?” Their answers proved that we could all learn from their example.

1. Recognize.

Although it may seem like your creative well is depleted, we can assure you that it is not. It is simply frozen for a moment. The first key step to overcoming your rut is recognizing that you are, in fact, as stuck as Flick’s tongue to the flag pole in A Christmas Story. This will help you shift your focus from being frustrated to finding solutions to get out of your slump.

2. Just. Keep. Swimming.

This probably isn’t the piece of advice that you were looking for, because writing, making, designing, planning, and any other form of using your brain juice can be painful while feeling drained of inspiration. The only thing worse than starting a project is restarting a project, and it can be extremely hard to revisit a task that tripped you up the first time. At the end of the day, if you work through your rut you can come back tomorrow with at least some content that you can salvage and save yourself from having another “oooohhh fudge” moment.

3. The Generic “Take a Break.”

When asked for their finest advice on getting out of these “oooohhh fudge” moments, every single person in our office said, “take a break.” But when asked what these breaks should entail, everyone gave very different suggestions. Here are a few:

  • Go Outside.
  • Take a nap on a picnic blanket. Go for a run. Even just getting out of the office and walking to your car and back can load you up with enough vitamin D and fresh air to come back to your work feeling refreshed.

  • Create a Pinterest Puppy Board.
  • That’s right! You might just be able to classify looking at puppies on the internet as working on your project. Simply distracting your mind for a few minutes and letting your brain relax with something that requires no critical thinking can provide a kind of rejuvenation and energy that no nap can match.

  • Snack!
  • Okay, eating may not be the answer to all of your problems, but sometimes a sip of water and something to munch on is all you need to get back into the groove. This was a recurring tip from our team, so tell your trainer that snacking was recommended by the professionals. It might not be exactly true, but at the very least it is helping your left brain get nice and toned.

4. Get Out of the Kiddie Pool.

Often times when creating, we get comfortable with specific programs, lenses, formats, and methods, and we start to view the way we do things as Fragile, or as they say in Italian, “Fra-gee-lay.” We begin to be afraid to stray from what we know, and this can lead to monotony that, after a while, starts to feel boring. However, it can be overwhelmingly difficult to leave what we have known and come to love. Taking risks, trying things you never have before, and pursuing ideas that may seem outrageous is often the remedy you need to get out of your funk. So I triple dog dare you to take a dive in the deep end and discover all of the beautiful ways you respond.

5. Collaboration & Inspiration.

If after trying out all of these tips your brain is still frozen to a flag pole, give yourself a break and ask for help. Sometimes one simple suggestion is all you need to ignite ten new ideas of your own. A fresh perspective might be just the boost that you need to take your project in a whole new direction. Inspiration can come from anywhere! Ask your co-workers. Search for sample work. Look around for colors and patterns. Even just doing things that you enjoy can bring ideas to light and melt your iceberg-of-a-brain-block away.

Aaaaaannnnd, unstick!

Now that you’ve gotten a behind-the-scenes look at our office’s go-to methods for breaking through creative ruts, give ‘em a try and relax. Flick might have needed the fire department to release him from his sticky situation, but YOU have all the tools you need to get past your stubborn block and let your creativity flow.