How to Get Out of a Creative Rut: an Autobiography
(I hope this dive into the getting your grove back will help you as much as it helped me.)
Recently, I’ve been in a creative rut; a creative rut that has effected every sense of my life. It was messing with my interactions with friends, co-workers, and humans on the subway, my homework, my hobbies, and myself. Literally everything. I found myself wanting to stay in and watch entire seasons of shows instead of making an effort to do something to inspire me. I was waiting for inspiration to happen, and I was pretending I didn’t need to go out find it. I shoved it so far to the back burner that I ultimately forgot about for a while. I had two weekends in a row where my friends were out of town so I didn’t have a built in social life. After these two weekends in the depths Netflix/Hulu/HBOGO binging on Stranger Things, The Get Down, and Night of. (Honestly these show are all great and I am so glad I watched them). But then I found myself staring at the television when I got home from work instead of doing something creative. I went from home to work and back. Finally I realized how mundane my life had been for two weeks. I was on autopilot walking to and fro the same destination. My brain was on silent. I had a snap out of it moment, when I spent an hour scrolling through websites on my computer trying to find something to watch. I got exasperated when I couldn’t find anything that looked interesting *eye roll emoji* Okay, wow. Did I really just get annoyed that I have “nothing to do??” I thought about how I have felt weird and empty and unfulfilled because I haven’t been inspired by anything. Then my brain had a series of realizations:
· I can’t blame anyone else for my weird uninspired feelings.
· I am 25. This is a super weird time. Accept it. Move on.
· I live in the city that never sleeps.
· I need to go do something.
So, I got out my list of things I’ve been meaning to do and prioritized them into a few I could do right now: get a new book, read the book, go for a long walk, sit on a park bench, & get some graphic design shit done. Deciding to actually do these things instead of just staring at them on a piece of paper made me feel better. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. So I went to the bookstore, browsed for a long ass time, and picked out a few books (“You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero and “A Secret History” by Donna Tartt). Then I proceeded to walk all across Manhattan (without headphones—quelle horreur!) to observe some of the other humans that live on this island with me. Last month, I read in this awesome book called “Steal Like an Artist” that says you should be allowed and encouraged to use the things you see and improve on them in your own way; aka make them your own don’t copy them. Next I sat on a park bench in Union Square, this time with headphones but no music, and listened to the conversations around me. This is a very busy park and people got up and sat down multiple times while I was there. I noticed how crazy the color palette of a lady’s shoe who walked by, I heard a conversation between a brother and sister who were worried about their parents' marriage, I saw the sunset between the buildings, I got offered to buy deodorant by a man selling them out of a plastic bag, I saw a firefly. All of these things would not have happened if I had been sitting I my apartment watching the 7th season of a TV show I didn’t care about at all. Here, I remembered that I loved observing and listening and learning and letting it inspire me. Needless to say, I grabbed my computer (yep—still in the park) and used the women’s crazy patterned shoes for the dog walking business logo’s color palette I had been struggling with. Boom. Creative inspiration.
Yes, ruts happen. No, you’re not going to be stuck in one forever. How you get out is up to you. Sit. Read. Walk. Look. Listen. Learn. There is so much happening around you it’s easy to get lost in it and drift into autopilot When you feel like that, take some time to observe. This helped me easy back out of my rut and it’s not hard once you get yourself started. You’ll like the results because you got to enjoy the whole process along the way. You’re a creative firework; you just need to pay attention to yourself when you need a boost.
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