Tonje Lilleås

How to get out of a creative rut

I love creating. Telling stories through images, video or blogposts is something that leave me feeling energized. Still I find myself unable to create again and again. And I know I’m not alone. Hence in this post I’ll share my tips on how to get out of a creative rut.

Want to see some of the stuff I’ve created this far? Check out my portfolio!

Unable to create

There’s no doubt that whatever creative outlet you have, you are going to find yourself unable to create from time to time. Writer Ernest Hemingway stated that the most frightening thing he encountered was a blank sheet of paper. And I think all creators can relate.

I don’t identify as a creator. I prefer the term storyteller, as it is sharing stories that spark my interest in photography, videography or writing blogposts. However what I’m doing is to create something that helps me tell the stories that I’d like to share.

When I find myself unable to create, the stories aren’t being told. And I know the world will go on just fine without me telling those stories. But the thing is that I’m somewhat addicted to the feeling it gives me when I’m able to tell a story well. Being unable to create is very frustrating. So what can we do when we find ourselves in a creative rut?

How to get out of a creative rut

1. Take care of yourself

If you don’t feel good, it’s difficult to create. You can find a lot of inspiration in challenges and adversity, however when it’s time to create it’s often wise to make sure you have met your needs first. Eat healthy, make sure to be active every day and maybe exercise a few times a week.

Also get outside. There’s nothing better for brain and body than a walk in the forest. You don’t have to trust me on this, there’s loads of research on the matter.

Lastly; try meditating. Creative ruts can often appear when we’re not in a good headspace. Maybe feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Meditation may help.

2. Change things up

I often find myself in a creative rut when I’ve been doing the same thing over and over again. When things become a routine I find it more difficult to find both inspiration and motivation to create. Introducing something new and changing the creative process up a bit can be very helpful. It might be working in a different space, giving your workspace a tidy up or even a light make-over. Or maybe you switch from the usual digital camera to a film camera for a shoot, to challenge yourself to think differently about the way you work.

3. Learn something new

When I feel stuck in creative rut it’s easy to start looking to other creators and consume more than I create. If I’m not careful about the content I decide to consume, this can make me feel even less like creating myself. However I find that if the content I consume is educational, and I make an effort to learn something new, this can often help me get out of the creative rut.

Also; always being mindful about learning new stuff is really good for your brain health. And loving your brain is important. Most certainly so if you’d like to stay sharp as you grow old(er).

4. Give yourself a break

Creative ruts are not aided by simply trying to push through. I find that giving myself a break when I’m not able to create is crucial. Do other things that you enjoy for a while, and the urge to create will most likely present itself again sooner rather than later.

However if you spend your break thinking about how you’re actually not able to create, waiting for the rut to be over, you may find the break frustrating instead of helpful. Be disciplined about not judging yourself for needing a break, and you’ll be back at creating when the time is right.

5. Try to remember why you started

I often find that looking back at both the things I have created and the things that got me into photography in the first place helps me get out of a creative rut.

There’s one thing that’s important to remember however, and that’s to look at it without judging yourself for not being able to create at the moment. And not to judge the past work even if you know you could have done better with what you know now. Simply look back and enjoy what you’ve created this far. Try to make yourself remember why you started, what it felt like picking up a camera for the first time or sharing your first video that you were proud of. And try to stay with that feeling for a while.

Taking a break to apply my own advice

You probably have gathered by the rare posts on here lately that I’ve been in a creative rut for a while. And I’m giving myself space and time to apply my own advice for a while more. I’m not going to promise any consistent posts for a while, but will post whenever I feel like it. It might be weekly, but I also may go a week or two without posting. I hope you will stick around! Make sure to sign up for my newsletter and subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out whenever I post. And remember, even when you find yourself in a creative rut, there’s always more to explore locally!



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