Getting yourself out of a creative rut

Being creative can be so much fun but it can also be extremely stressful when you get yourself into a creative rut, especially when you can’t seem to get back out of it and your career highly depends on it. So I thought I’d share some ways that I use to help me get out of a creative rut and back loving what I’m doing again.

Think about what you want.

Sometimes when you’re stuck creatively it’s because you have no direction or any what you want from life, both personal and career wise. I don’t personally ever see this as a bad thing as it’s a good opportunity to re-evaluate what you’re currently doing, whether it makes you happy or not, and work out what you can change or add to your life that will make you happy. It may be a good idea to write down all of the things that you currently really enjoy and that add genuine happiness to your life, you can then write a list of things that do the opposite, the bad habits you have, things that have a negative impact on your life and anything else that might be dragging you down.

Next you can start to think about your future and what you’d like to achieve both in your career and personal life. The best way to do this is to think about your life time goals in every area of your life, what do you really want as an end goal? Take your time deciding these goals and don’t rush yourself, give yourself a couple of days or weeks if you need it because this part is extremely important.

Once you have these written down you can start to break them down into ten, five and one year goals, but just make sure these are always helping you towards your absolute end goal. If you start to realise at any point along the way that what you’re doing isn’t helping you towards your end goal or that your end goal itself has changed then that’s a clear sign that you might need to re-evaluate what you’re doing all over again, and as I said before, never see this as a bad thing, it’s just a chance for the change that you need.

Analyse your strengths and weaknesses

The first step here is to write down your strengths and weaknesses (a lot of writing, I know!) because it’s important that you’re very clear on what they are.

Seeing as your strengths are already there and have become much more natural to you, it’s beneficial to use these to your advantage. If you’re feeling stuck and aren’t sure what to create next, use your strengths to at least make something, eg. If you’re strength is drawing females, do that, if your strength is painting watercolour flowers, do that. Creating something that you’re naturally better at than other things at least allows you to get something out there, and that feeling of completion and even the slightest bit of progression will start to motivate you to create even more.

When it comes to your weaknesses set yourself fun projects that will help to improve on them and possibly become a valuable project overall. For example I feel like I’m pretty bad at anatomy in general, especially in humans, so I have a separate sketchbook where I just do anatomy studies, I also want to do the same for hands because I’m awful at drawing hands and pretty much avoid drawing them altogether where I can. These might not sound like projects as far as the end result is concerned because you don’t necessarily have an ‘outcome’ or collection of illustrations at the end of it, however your outcome will be improvement and plenty of reference studies for future projects.

Look back on your past works

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, but the person who inspires you the most should always, always be yourself. Take some time out to look back on your past work, are there any particular pieces or projects that get you excited that you’re super proud of? Focus on those and think about why you are proud of them, was it your use of colour? Your solid line work? Your composition?

Us this information to set yourself new projects that will put you in a similar position to achieve the same level of satisfaction as you have had in the past. Are there projects you’ve worked on which you feel like you could do better on now you’ve got better skills? Are any of these projects kickstarting new ideas? There are so many ways you can use your old work to motivate you to create new things.

Most importantly, remember why you started.

This is something that is really easy to lose sight of once you’ve got into the flow of things and set off down a certain path, but always remember why you started. Why did you get into a creative career in the first place? What was your aim? Was it to inspire others? To work on awesome projects? To earn a good living? Think about this and ask yourself if that’s what you’re currently doing, are you still working towards that goal or has your goal changed altogether anyway?

If you do realise that you’re on the wrong path and that either other things have changed or you need to change what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to do so. It can be difficult when you’ve put a lot of effort into something to consider completely going back on that and going in a new direction, but if it’s what will make you happier then it’s always worth it, and no one should be feeling stuck or down because it’s easier than working hard to make your ultimate dream come true.

I hope this has helped! Being stuck creatively is something I go through fairly often and I really appreciate that my brain and body is trying to tell me something is wrong, but it’s definitely gone on longer than usual this time, but I feel like I’m finally getting out of it now. If you have any other tips for getting out of a creative rut or would like to ask for more advice feel free to get in touch!