You know that feeling? That drive inside you that wants to do something? You really, really want to create something awesome, but it just won’t come out? Things just don’t move the way you want them to and things just aren’t going fast enough… Then when suddenly some time becomes available, you can’t seem to figure out where to begin or what project to pick up? And, on top of everything else, it always seems like you have a million things to do?
This might mean you’re stuck in a Creative Rut (for lack of a better term)! This is normal! (At least, that’s what I tell myself so that I’m not the only freak.) But how do we make the brain flow again and get everything moving? Here are a few things I do whenever I get that daunting feeling of running around in a loop and not getting things done:
1. Clear Space
This means cleaning up my office and studio. I know a creative mind is a messy mind, but too many things around you might not work well. For me, clutter works once I’m moving and once the brain is rationalizing what I thought of creatively. That’s when clutter works. But when I’m dead in the waters, I clean. The movement alone of cleaning, throwing things away, putting other things on the “reuse pile” always triggers something that gets me starting again.
2. Old Notes | Remember the spark
Over the years I’ve written down ideas and notes as the inspiration came to me. When I’m in a rut, I try to find those notes. They might be written on napkins, Evernote, sketchbooks- anything I can find. This kinda goes hand-in-hand with cleaning, because it’s coming across old fuels and ideas that trigger something that gets the idea going again.
3. Keep the train moving!
Sometimes it’s just a matter of creating that momentum again. Email some people you have worked with before and ask if they are up for something. Then throw around ideas in that team/group setting. This way you don’t only pull yourself out, but take along others who might be “stuck in a rut” as well. This method usually works best if I sit down and stay with the conversation for a while. So don’t write a message or email only to let it sit for a day or two. Just create the momentum, send that email and start going back and forth with ideas. Then comes the fun part: immediately picking a date and start shooting/creating!
Stand in front of your own camera. It might feel weird at first, but standing there and thinking on how to make the scene more interesting and adding little elements to the scene can kick your brain back into thinking mode. And before you know it, you’ll be building the scene, standing in it or wanting to find a model to shoot it.
Forget everything. Forget trying to jump start it, or re-remembering the spark. Try doing nothing. Don’t do anything in a space you know and feel comfortable in. Go outside, to a new park, a place in town you haven’t been to yet, that cafe that always looked too creepy to sit. Go out and sit and do nothing. John Cleese has something very interesting to say in this matter worth checking out.
Besides the space, you need time! Time for your mind to wander. It might help to bring a pen and paper, because for the first 60 minutes all the “worry” and “stress” of things that need to get done start coming up. Write them down and let them go. Just sit and keep doing nothing.
Creativity is a very very silent whisper and when you shut off the rest of the noise (things to do, life, notifications, etc) you can start hearing her whisper. And then all you have to do is play with the idea. This doing nothing has one other element that is very important! Time! Yes, I know I said that before. This time I mean setting a fixed day and time in which you are going to do this- just like any other task. So: ‘Monday from 14h to 16h, I’m doing nothing, at that cafe’. And then (the hard part) actually go and do it!
Last, everyone should figure out for themselves what gets them back on track. But these are a few things that help me and might help you.
Im very curious to hear how you deal wit being in a creative rut. And how you get out? Send me an email or leave a message below. Would love to hear it!