Dig Your Way Out of a Creative Rut

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. 

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?


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