It happens to all of us. Even if you’re a cool Creative Lady, you’re bound to get stuck in a rut every once in awhile. Maybe the thought of sitting down at your computer for even one more second makes you want to scream. Maybe the project you’ve been working on just fills you with dread and despair. Or maybe you can’t even come up with any ideas for something else to work on! Either way, it’s a crappy feeling. I’ve been there many a time, and I’ve lived to tell the tale (as far as you know, anyway…I could totally be writing this as a motivation-obsessed ghost).
When you work a lot, as many of us do, it’s hard to stay motivated. This is especially true with creative work. It can be hard enough as it is to create something, but to do it when you’re not in the right mindset is brutal. So how are you supposed to get out of that rut and get back your creative inspiration? Well, I can’t guarantee you anything, but I can share a few tips with you. This is what I do when I get stuck in a creative/work rut.
1. Take a walk. I know, I know. This is O Magazine 101 level advice. But listen, a walk can cure just about anything that ails you (except for actual diseases). There’s something about the combination of movement and new sights that can spark some inspiration. Also sometimes you’ll see people with puppies and then you’ll get to pet the puppies and then the people will think you’re weird because you shouted “Your puppy is SO TINY!” at them (I may be speaking from personal experience).
2. Make something else. Let’s say you’re stuck on your writing. It can be incredibly helpful to do something else creative that is in no way related to writing. Maybe you should try making pizza dough. While you’re wondering why your dough didn’t rise and cursing yeast, you just might get an idea for your project. Or maybe you should try sewing something. Switching to another form of creativity helps you make new connections in your brain (probably…I don’t know, I totally made that up. I’m not a scientist, you guys!).
3. Experience something new. For me, the best cure for a general feeling of malaise is experiencing something new. Go see a movie you don’t know anything about. Listen to a new album. Check out a store you haven’t visited yet. If a friend calls and asks you to go do something you’d normally say no to, say yes! All of these new experiences will get you out of the house, fill your head with new stimuli, and maybe even give you a new story or detail you can use in something later. I like staying in and working as much as/probably more than the next girl, and there’s definitely a time for that. But there’s only so much motivation to be found inside your house.
4. Hang out with people who are passionate. I don’t just mean creative people. It’s good to hang out with people who are passionate about anything in their lives. All of my friends are driven and excited by their career or educational paths, and I always feel invigorated after I hang out with them. My best friend Cat is passionate about animals, my friend Carrie is passionate about librarianship, and my friend is Jessie is passionate about life in general. And that’s just the tip of the metaphorical friend iceberg! It’s good to hang out with people who aren’t just going through the motions.This isn’t to suggest you should drop someone just because they aren’t motivated or positive, of course. Everyone has down days. But if you’re constantly surrounding yourself with bummed out people, don’t be surprised if you wind up feeling bummed out, too.
5. Write it down. I’m a BIG proponent of writing things down. It’s a great way to center yourself and focus on your priorities. Also, sometimes writing can help you figure out a solution to a problem you didn’t even know you had.
6. Read a book. I don’t mean you should pick up a novel, although that’s a great idea too! I’m talking about self-help books or books specific to your work. I like to read things about writing or freelancing when I feel stuck. Something totally hippie, like Writing Down the Bones or The Artist’s Way, is super-effective for me when I’m feeling unmotivated. You can also go for straight up self-help. You can laugh at the concept of manifestation all you want, but honestly, I got a LOT done when I was listening to Wayne Dyer’s The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny. I think self-help books are so effective because reading them requires you to admit that you’re open to change, which can only be a good thing.
7. Give into the feeling. Listen, let’s get real. Sometimes you’re just going to feel unmotivated. That’s life. We can’t realistically work every hour of every day. I’m not talking about day jobs here. Don’t call up your boss and be like, “Ugh, I read on this blog that I should take some time off, smell ya later.” I just meant that if you’re facing a huge block in your creative work, sometimes that means you need a break. Time to recharge is good! It’s fine to take some time to just live your life without stressing about it.
What about you guys? What do you do when you’ve lost your motivation and you’re stuck in a rut?