Dig Your Way Out of a Creative Rut

16 Aug

Following a long vacation, I’ve been struggling to get back into my normal productivity flow this week. Though maybe if I’m honest I’ve been a bit stuck in a rut all summer.

No big. It happens. And not infrequently, either. I don’t know if my way is the best way, but hitting an occasional rut is something I’ve just accepted as part of my high-demand work flow doubling up a full-time job with the side projects I love.

All the same, it’s high time to dig myself back out.

how to get out of a creative rut

Because I face ruts semifrequently, I’ve learned ways to get myself back out from them. And this time, because I’m so stuck, I did some research and found a few new tactics.

Here’s my favorites:

Show up.
It sounds obvious, but when you feel like you’re in a rut (especially a vacation rut), sometimes the hardest part is just peeling yourself away from the TV. In these situations, I rely heavily on my habits to get me back on track.

Even if you’re sure you couldn’t possibly do anything worthwhile today, just get yourself in front of your work-in-progress. It may not be immediate, but if you make this a regular habit, your muse will start showing up too.

Be present.
Stop with the to-dos and the texting and the TV and all the other white noise. Remove yourself from your busy normal environment and go somewhere your regular distractions can’t reach you. Now, give your creative project your entire focus.

Sometimes if it’s my to-do list stressing me out, I give my to-dos my full attention first and knock them out, then come back to my creative work. 

Indulge.
Ruts can be a sign you are overworking yourself. When this happens, I often let myself have the break my brain is begging for. I’ll let myself oversleep, read and watch TV for a day, just spend time with my loved ones. And then the next day I get right back to it, a little more rested.

Start small.
Write down all the things you have to do, then order them from easiest to hardest. Then just start with number one and plug your way through. When you start with the easiest tasks, you get the thrill of crossing off your to-dos and before you know it, oh look, you’re already halfway through.

Read a book about your passion/expertise.
This is a great way to learn, expand your abilities and understanding, and get the latest developments in your field. And it never fails to get me excited about my craft again and give me new ideas.

We all hit ruts sometimes. The trick is to face it head-on and not let it stop you in your tracks. Whenever I hit a rut, some combination of these tactics pulls me back out and gets me focused again.

 

How do you get out of a rut?

Which Kind of Creative Are You?

24 Jul which kind of creative are you?

There’s two kinds of creatives in this world: habit keepers and flow chasers.

Habit keepers develop habits that let them get their work done methodically, like writing 1,000 words every day. They work to their goal, then top, sticking to that habit no matter what, come hell or high water or even a family vacation.

which kind of creative are you?Flow chasers work furiously through an entire night if they hit a creative flow. And when the flow is gone, they may not touch the project again for days, even weeks, while they wait for inspiration to strike again.

Our natural tendencies tend to put us in one camp or the other. I’m a habit keeper—I need that daily touch on my work to stay connected to it. If I don’t see some kind of slow but steady progress, I lose faith that I can ever bring it to conclusion.

There’s really nothing wrong with either of these approaches. Not inherently. Each has its strengths and each its weaknesses. But habit keepers and flow chasers can learn some important lessons from each other about maximizing our creativity.

Habit keepers can learn to be open to inspiration outside of our assigned time for creative work. If you feel it coming, it’s okay to chase it. It’s also okay to let your work ebb and flow sometimes.

And flow chasers can learn how to stay disciplined between moments of flow, and how to push through the dry spells—showing up consistently teachers your muse to show up, too.

The greatest-greats among creative masters across history are people who have learned both how to harness discipline like the habit keeper and to let inspiration harness them like the flower chaser.

Which are you, a habit keeper or a flow chaser? What are your creative work tendencies?

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Something Special Happening at The Write Practice

7 Jul

I don’t usually plug my Write Practice posts over here, but right now this excellent blog for writers has something special going on. Not only am I completely psyched to be a part of it, but I also think that it could hold real value for many of you. So I’m making an exception.

Here’s the scoop: Write Practice is in creating an ebook chock-full of its best writing tips.

And here’s the part that has me really excited: All the funds from this book’s sales will help an exceptional student in Rwanda—his name is Gerald—pursue his writing passion at university, and then return to his community equipped to make a positive difference.

The first step to all of this is that we’re looking for writers to tell us what they want from the ebook. Learn more and have a voice in this process here.

4 Reasons to Use Images for Word Nerds

21 Jun

4 Reasons to Use Images for Word NerdsFlip back through the archived posts here on Creative Juicer and you’ll see images are few and far between.

I’m a word person, thank you very much. It’s how my thoughts take shape and where the force of my meaning naturally settles. Images don’t really resonate for me. So when I started Creative Juicer, I figured, I’ll just put my words out there.

The problem is, the marketer side of me knows better. And if I stop and pay attention, most of the most successful writers’ blogs I know, like The Write Practice, include an image with every post.

Images matter. A lot.

If you’re a writer (or any kind of creative) trying to develop an online platform, integrate images into your content. Because when it comes to content marketing (and that’s exactly what your blog, social media, and creative work are) the more you can integrate images, the better.

Consider these three facts about the power of images:

Images can boost your SEO.

Articles with images get 94% more views than those that don’t. That’s a pretty significant number. I don’t know about you, but if my post visits jumped 94%, I’d be one happy camper.

People are drawn to images.

90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are transmitted 60,000 times faster in the brain than texts. So if you’re looking to engage readers, images give you a serious leg up.

The power of image-driven networks like Pinterest is undeniable.

Pinterest generated more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined (stat from 2012). Don’t you want that power working for you, not against you?

It’s getting easier and easier to get great images online.

Fortunately, the magic of the Internet is on our side, even if you’re total flop at graphics like me. There’s a number of online tools to make it easy—my favorites are Creative Commons and Canva. Do some searching and find the tool that fits your own needs.

What it all adds up to is this: My excuses for not using images with my posts are running out—and so are yours. So you’re going to start seeing a lot more images with my posts moving forward. Sure, it takes a little more time, but the payoff is definitely worth it.

Like it? Share it!  Twitter  | Facebook

Learn more from my sources here, here, and here.

 

Do you use images in your online platforming? What’s your experience with them? 

Reality Check: Beta Testing Your Art

2 Jun

Before a new technology launches, it’s beta tested—because it’s not enough for the programming to work in theory, you have to have actual human users make sure it functions properly and meets users the way they naturally interact with it. Beta testing.

We need to do the same with our art. Because, really, what good is our art if our audience can’t pick up what we’re putting down? Is that still even art?

Without feedback, we’re operating in a vacuum. I don’t know about you, but my mind can drift pretty far out there. I

That’s why, when you reach close to the end of your creative process, you should pause for a beta test. 

For me, that time is now. I’ve finally finished my manuscript and I’m looking for beta readers to give me some feedback.

And hey, want to be one of them? Because I’d love nothing more than to get feedback from the Creative Juicer community who has shared this process with me.

About the book:

The story is an 80,000-word fantasy novel that combines a gritty antihero in the tradition of Frank Miller’s Sin City, a narrative with the emotive power of Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, and a world that draws from an amalgam of Judeo-Christian and Greek mythology.

The box has put blood on Adem’s hands more times than he can count. But the Hunters keep finding him, determine to risk everything to fight for it. One they reach for the box, Adem is powerless to stop himself from destroying them.

If only he could walk away from it. If only he knew what was in it. But he’s already tried everything. 

After ages on the run, Adem hides in Epoh’s darkest corner, the holy district, abandoned by both men and the gods since the last Realm War. Just tries to remain unnoticed as he watches life unfold in the forsaken city. To not kill anymore. 

Then an angel comes to him offering this and more: a soul and the chance to be human. But first he must return the angel’s long lost human love to him from the Underworld. 

But under his heartache, the angel hides something much darker. As he pursues his quest, Adem starts a chain of events that will unleash the Third Realm War and turn all of Terath into battlefield for the gods and their First Creatures.

I’m hoping to have all feedback by June 30. If this story sounds interesting and you’re willing to share some of your time and thoughts, here’s what you get from me in return:

  • Inclusion on an email list to get updates related to the book (unless you don’t want to be!)
  • Mention in the thank you’s for the book
  • Copy of the book whenever, however it is finally released
  • My eternal gratitude

If you’re interested, shoot me an email at emily.wenstrom@gmail.com.

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