Getting Out of A Creative Rut

You stare at the canvas, the screen, the keyboard… and it refuses to meet your eyes.  It looks away as if it is ashamed 2009_1012glendalough0011of you.

You may as well be painting on shards of broken glass.  Your screen shows nothing but wavy lines.  Your fingers slide off the keyboard, never getting traction.

You are in a rut.

A rut can be the consequence of a bad idea.  You shouldn't have started a project in the first place.

A rut can be the end product of bad timing.  For some reason you are out of sync with the world.

A rut can form because of bad luck or circumstances conspiring against you.

More often than not, a rut is a consequence of sticking to tried and tested methods that don't take into account how you or the world has changed.  It's like your mother serving you the same breakfast you loved as a child.  You push the meal away, uneaten, and she says, “but you always loved Cocoa Puffs and pork sausage.”

That was then, this is now.

Dealing with a creative rut is a three-step process of seeing, believing, and repairing — you have to see the rut, acknowledge it and find a solution that saves you and gets you moving again.

To do this:

  1. Identify the concept that isn't working.
  2. Write down your assumptions about it.
  3. Challenge the assumptions.
  4. Act on the challenge.

Adapted from Twyla Tharp's brilliant The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life. Buy this book here.

Inspiration Meditation and and F-R-E-E-writing are two other powerful tools to get you out of a rut and into your creative groove.


COMING UP: Orna Ross interviews creativity guru and author of The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron.

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