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In a Creative Rut

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I haven’t written anything in what feels like a millennium. Some diagnosed my symptoms as writer’s block, but I’m no writer. I’d prefer to call it a creative rut. Since my struggles here expand further than blogging, but also into my ads, designs, and music. It’s not the “you’re always your own worst critic” idea, it’s more like my mind had gone blank. Motivation and passion are foreign concepts to me at this point.

People have told me that if you start jotting things down or continue writing, ideas will naturally free form from them. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do now.

I’ve been in this position in the past, as they do come in waves and here are some things that help me shake off this rut. Really, it’s trying to find inspiration.

1. Create – literally just jot down EVERYTHING that comes to mind, no bad ideas. Turn off that filter. If it’s something visual rather than written, just start drawing lines or taking random photographs of your kitchen table. Something to get the mind back into the creation mode.

2. Look at other people’s work – something about seeing other people’s amazing work motivates me to do something amazing. They give me inspiration, ideas, and passion. After all, isn’t everything just innovation rather than invention? I like to have a Feedly or some sort of RSS reader with a bunch of websites that inspire me. Some of those sites I follow and I love to go to for ideas: behance.net, vimeo.com, abuzzedo.com, adweek.com, adrants.com, adsoftheworld.comdesignrfix.com, fubiz.net, design-milk.com, and I could go on and on.

3. SLEEP – if you tell yourself to come up with something amazing, you won’t come up with something amazing. It’s the law of reverse will (totally made up). I find that some of my best ideas come at two in the morning when I suddenly awake from a dream and have the best idea. Of course, that is when my filter is off and in the morning I look at what I’ve done and think “what was I thinking! This is ridiculous.” Good.

4. Listen to music, better yet, make music – music has a way to unlock something in us that cannot be described by words. Why do you think people hum when they’re happy? Crank the tunes up, strum that guitar, whatever it is, just get some melodies up in the air.

5. Watch a movie, or two – I often need to refocus and regroup, so the best way is to distract myself in between. The easiest way? Watching a movie. Movies often contain plots way too bizarre to ever happen in real life. The crazier the better. You never know what ideas come while you’re on that fifth movie on Netflix.

6. Go for a walk, run, bike ride, etc. – when there’s nothing to do other than lifting your right leg and then your left, your mind is forced to do some deep thinking. There are no distractions… at least there shouldn’t be (SAY NO TO THAT IPHONE). I find many of my ideas come while I’m walking to class. Of course there’s the struggle of pulling out my notepad or iPhone to jot down my idea as my hands are freezing in the crisp winter air. That’s another thing though, ALWAYS bring something that you can jot ideas down. You never know when the next big idea comes in your head, at the cafe, gym, or even in the shower.

7. Read – books are the most imaginative gifts in the world. You are literally staring at words, but feel lost in a different world. You imagine what the characters look like, what their voices sound like, what the neighborhood feels like. Being lost in another world can give you the most riveting ideas.

8. Talk to people – sometimes it’s that one word or line that a friend says that launches you off into a trance of awesomeness. It’s impossible to get out of our heads, so the easiest way to gain new perspective is to seek a whole other entity.

9. Don’t think about it – even until the last minute. You need a mind cleanse. When I have one so-so idea, many times I fixate on it and many of my other ideas stem from it and I’m unable to come up with new ideas because I’m stuck on that one subpar one. If it’s the last minute, you start jotting everything down and ‘no’ is not in your vocabulary anymore. Many times it’s the craziest ideas that can be a hit or miss that end up being hits.

Of course with all that being said, I must now take my own advice. Wish me luck.

What are some techniques that you use to get out of a rut? Let me know in the comments below.

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