I’m recently pulling out of a creative rut. Or so they call it. Actually it was more like a hair pulling, I’m never gonna snap my shutter again, I’m horrible at everything, and hate anything that I create, rut. Ever been there? You know how you drag yourself through, hoping, wishing, praying the excitement and love will find its way back, leaving disenchantment and ambivalence behind.
You know it’s tough, and you know you don’t talk about it; nor do you Google it because you think no one else ever feels the same. Yet, I’ve found that’s not so.
Instead, I believe every creative hits these rough patches. And I believe every creative learns something, or evolves more in some way. Yet, we still don’t like the rut. It’s not a good place. This past creative rut of mine lasted 2 or 3 months. Long enough for me to consider everything possible to pull myself out.
I listed 5 of my favorite strategies to battle your creative rut below. I’ve also included a free guide with these 5 strategies plus 10 more to get you out of the creative rut! Some may work for you or you may have other ideas that work for you. If so, list them in the comments so we can all benefit!
1. Step Away
The most success came for me when I use this to break out of a rut. Step away from photography or whatever creative pursuit you’re doing. But don’t just step away, find a different creative pursuit. One that allows you to let your guard down. Just stepping away will only allow all the little things in life to take over. Or Netflix. Instead, fill the time you’d normally spend on photography with another creative thing.
“Creativity is contagious. Become creative in one area of your life and it will affect the other areas as well.” – Chris Orwig: The Creative Fight
2. Analyze the Problem
Sometimes you encounter a creative rut because an actual problem exists and you need a solution. I discovered one of my problems recently was my style didn’t show through my photos. No wonder I was so down about it and didn’t care for what I was producing. It wasn’t me. Once I sat down and asked what the problem was, I had better direction to solve the problem and pull out of my rut.
So sit down quietly, without distraction and go through your work. Ask yourself what you believe is missing. Find examples of your work that make your heart sing and ask why those are different from the ones you aren’t excited about. Somewhere in that difference is the problem you need to resolve.
3. Go Back To Basics (or teach if you can)
For some reason, if we aren’t feeling our own work and it’s become dull, it’s helpful to revisit the basics. I sometimes think it’s because our style is no longer ours and clean shooting and editing help us start with a clean slate. Like going back to a clean canvas without preconceptions. Other times I believe we need to become new to the process again. It is in this newness that we may find a new style or appreciate what we create instead.
Even better if you can teach the basics. Beginners feel excitement as they begin their journey and that excitement will rub off on you. You’ll find a smile as you start to shoot again. And of course it’s always better to go back and relearn the rules because often our creativity comes out when we know how to break those rules.
4. Turn Off Social Media
We follow people in our own field on social media, so comparison can begin to inch itself into our minds, causing that creative rut to settle in. If we step away and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, it is then we become free to enjoy what we do again.
Today we feel if we aren’t on social media enough, we’ll miss out. But it’s not true. A couple of times I’ve removed myself and when I did come back I always had great response and support. We all understand it, we only don’t talk about it.
5. Find a Mentor
Going it alone is the toughest part. Often we find inspiration, motivation, direction, and encouragement from others, especially others who admittedly go through the same thing. Talking out our problems, fears, questions and looking for solutions helps us move forward. Or simply getting a little encouragement from someone goes a long way. I offer mentor services for times when you face something like this. They range from general mentorships to finding a style, processing or beginner mentorships. Check out all my offerings!
And I’ve made a free packed up, downloadable guide with these 5 strategies plus 10 additional strategies on how to get out of a creative rut! You can get that below!
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