The worse thing for any entrepreneur is to be in a creative rut and feel as if you can never work your way around it. More terrible is when your business depends on your creativity, and you have to either force it or compromise your work in some way in order to keep going.
Creative ruts suck. Each time I speak to someone going through it in my Facebook Group Successful Caribbean Content Creators I’m reminded that creatives need something more precocious and precious than the business-minded set. Once it’s not there, the work suffers.
Getting Stuck In A Creative Rut Is Not The End Of It All
Last month in the Facebook group chat, I took a question from one of our members, Francis, very seriously. She is the owner of a private school but was feeling stuck in a creative rut, and could not find her way out.
Before I go on, can I just say the first step to getting out of anything is self-awareness? This includes the ability to know when something does not feel right and do something about it. So cheers to Francis for reflecting on her reluctance to tap into the gumption to motivate her teaching staff before the start of the school year. Francis also felt lethargic about the creative planning that’s involved in developing the school’s homeworking component.
Solitude Is Ok Once You Use It Wisely
I commend Francis also for reaching out about her creative rut and understanding that not every day or every week, for that matter, is going to be one where she charges out of bed to live her best life.
As business owners, creativity is what we thrive on. In many ways, it is who we are, part of our identity and the way we show up in the world. There is a lot of pride that we wear with the title, “creative.”
So when we lose it, it feels like as if a vampire sucked the life out of us. There is listlessness and the feelins that we are the only ones going through it. Often, it’s a lonely period accompanied by thoughts of wanting to give up.
Advice To Get You Out Of Your Creative Rut
But here is the advice I gave to Francis. I told her sometimes to get through, you have to move through. A rut may demand that we remain in silence and work out the very thing it is telling us to. More often than not, we are so caught up in the busyness of life that we forget that time away from work is ok to ask ourselves…
What’s really wrong?
Why am I exhausted?
What makes me hopeful in the moment?
Is there anything that brings me joy in this moment?
What’s the source of my angst or pain?
How can I regroup?
Where can I get help?
A creative rut can be a period of time to self reflect.
A Spark Can Be Lit Again
Seeking answers may require just time away, at the hairdresser for instance, with a chilled glass of wine gossiping about nothing and everything. You can link up with other inspiring people in your industry to hear how they overcame challenges. Sitting alone for awhile to listen to what your gut is whispering works too.
You may want to volunteer at a shelter or a soup kitchen or a children’s home. Another solution could involve turning on your favourite music and finally using that bathtub that you throw dirty clothes into for its real purpose. Professional help is always an option.
Whatever you decide the activity should allow for a kind of slow release, almost like a balloon having its air let out. At the end of it all, that final exhalation just might allow you to once again inhale the very thing that was missing for you to create again.
I don’t think creativity can be chased. I believe it can come in bursts and it can wax and wane. I also believe some people have it in droves. What I know for sure though is that sparks can be lit again.
Here is what I do when I find myself in a creative rut.
- Stop The Pressure. I remove the timelines and all the pressure that comes along with them. All of my work is deadline-driven, and sometimes my energy flow, which informs my creativity, can get blocked. So I take off restrictions and have free days where I create without timelines. It helps…a lot!
- Exercise. The act and art of moving my body make me feel happier and stronger emotionally. As I get older it’s the emotional benefits that I love most about exercising.
- Simply. Ok so Simplify is my business model but the fact that I get to do so many amazing, creative things just to get the Content Success Boxes out each month is such a blessing. The opportunity as well to work with a team comprises amazing creatives with whom I can bounce ideas around always lifts my spirit. Having a tribe of like-minded people is a huge creativity booster.
- Digital Detoxes. I’m a content creator and founder of a content and technology platform. I’m always switched on but I also find time not to do anything related to digital. Those periods are big saving graces.
- Girl Talk. I’d be nowhere without shooting the breeze with my friends and the women I love the most. Talking about marriage, singlehood, family, business, Trump, fashion, food, religion, sex and everything in between gives me a daily dose of happiness which puts me in a mindset to do my best creative work.
A New More Powerful Self
Back to Francis, the last time I heard from Francis she sent me thank you letter. School had started, she found her spark and ignited it again after 3 weeks of working through her murky waters.
My wish is that you don’t fear creative ruts. if you find yourself stuck in one, dig deep. Embrace the process of excavation with the knowledge that creativity can be sparked. Sometimes the ruts are there to direct us to our most powerful creative selves that we never would have known existed.
So tell me. Have you ever been in a rut and what got you out of it?