We have all hit that dreaded creative rut at some point because let’s face it generating new ideas is hard!
Here, we asked a group of artists how they spark creativity again when they find themselves in a creative rut.
I have a few tactics for getting out of a creative rut. So, I usually try to take myself out (like a date, a proper date) every now and then, usually to see art, or eat some nice food – or both, but to be alone. This is key, as this is when you notice all the life around you happening, the space between the edges, where life happens!! This instantly sparks inspiration and opens space for conversations with strangers to happen. Learning to be alone here is key. Another thing I do is explore movement in my body, wiggling into different shapes in front of a mirror and seeing how the flesh responds is usually a big idea sparker. And another one, is letting yourself have guilt-free time off, as when your mind is allowed to rest, like properly, that’s when lots of things that were bubbling under the surface come up, get that journal out!! It is really important to keep this up as part of your practice, regularly, in order to prevent a rut from happening in the first place.
When I am in a creative rut I usually stop painting and do something else that I enjoy doing, like go into nature, meet friends or even watch a movie. That creates space in between and takes the pressure off. Sometimes it also helps to look at my favorite artworks or discover something completely new. And if I have a deadline of some sort, I make a ton of sketches until finally, one idea sparks my interest. I then use that as a starting point and follow it until I feel excited about turning the idea into a painting.
When I struggle to make work I have a tendency to be very doom and gloom about everything- I develop a narrative around the ways in which my work is bad etc and getting out of a creative rut is often about changing my mindset. I have come to understand for me that struggling to make work mostly occurs when the work needs to change; when it has outgrown itself and it’s time for me to up the ante. Practically speaking I’ll grab my pencils, pastels etc and start drawing, 10s and 10s of compositions on paper. Then, even if they are bad I have made something. Anything is better than nothing.
Tao Siqi / @taosiqi_
In fact, for me my work only reflects the world I see through my eyes; it does not matter to me whether it is “unconventional”. However, I would love to share some thoughts on the creative process: remain curious about the world; perceive the genuine energy coming from different sources in life; try to appreciate the aesthetics of all regions and groups, including those you find hard to understand; when creating the work, being lucid and humble is equally important as being raw and sensitive (no they are not incompatible); have faith in your own artistic style while relentlessly introspecting, purifying and rewriting the self through its destruction.
We’ve all been there… Feeling demotivated, drained, and without energy. As much as we want to continue working, we are burned out. What has helped me to get out of the creative rut are the following 4 things and I hope some can resonate and help you too.
1. Give yourself a break, and when I say break I mean a total stop. Having at least 3-4 days or even a 1 week were I stop completely painting. When a creative rut normally happens to me is because I’ve been non stop working. Sometimes our brain and body just needs to stop for a while and reset.
2. Connect with nature. I’ve found this one really helpful. Taking a walk in a park with a matcha (or coffee haha yum), and a book you like being present. Enjoy life’s simple pleasures, looking at plants and flowers. Disconnect with the outer world and connect with your own energy.
3. Have fun. Many times when I’m blocked it’s because I’m thinking a lot about what I should be doing and I don’t take the time to enjoy myself. What helps me the most is going out with friends and especially dancing. Just relaxing with a drink with friends and laughing clears my mind. Dancing works because it shakes stress away and I get my endorphins back. And really….Many times when I have fun and go out with friends I suddenly get inspiration. You just never know when it can happen. Just pick an activity you really enjoy and do it.
4. Travel. I know that this is a little more difficult because of money and time but every time I travel it gives me a reset. Even if it’s day getaway to somewhere near it helps. Traveling opens our minds again to new probabilities and inspiration can come when we least expect it. And remember that creative ruts happens to all of us. Don’t stress and spend that time finding new possibilities.
*All images courtesy of artists