7 Ways to Get Out of a Creative Rut

Re-embrace your creative soul

It happens to all of us, you’re on a roll, the creativity is in full flow then bam life throws you a curveball and before you know it the pens are dusty and the creative block has you in its clutches. The struggle is real. These seven strategies are my go to list. They will work even if you’re poor on time and resources. Try one, two or all seven it’s a pain free method to get your creative mojo flowing and get out of that rut.

Move your body to get out of a creative rut and make some artwork
  1. Move your body

Here is some free advice: stress is the enemy of creativity.  I’m not talking about the kind of stress that pushes you to meet the deadline, oh no, this is the other kind…the too stressed out to get anything done type of stress. Don’t feel guilty that you haven’t been creative lately. We all have deadlines and commitments in life. Full time job? Family obligations? Adorably cute but massively time consuming pets? Yep, we’ve all been there and I hear you.

Here is a fun quick fix. Get up out that chair, get up off that sofa, put the phone down and jump out of the bed… move your body. This is a fast, guaranteed way to help you shake off the stress. Dance, spin, jump up and down, anything to move. Think inner child and wiggle that body. Conquer your fear of looking or feeling silly. Enjoy the sensation of movement and feel that creative energy fill your body.

Visit an exhibition man with VR headset at an art show breaking creative block

2. Visit an exhibition

Need some inspiration? The best way to get out of that creative rut is to feel inspired. You need to get out of the bubble and head off to your  nearest show. 

Going to a local show in person has so many upsides.  You get to know other creatives in your area, you feel connected to your community and you find out what other creative happenings are coming up. Creativity breeds more creativity.

Live miles from a museum? Want to visit in the middle of the night? Try an online visit to MOMA or THE NATIONAL GALLERY.

Call a friend, here's a friendly old grandpa cheering on his artist mates

3. Call a can do person

One of the pit-falls of a creative rut is finding out how many people don’t want you to get out of it. Beware the energy suckers. We’re all gullible to the neigh sayers, especially when creative block hits.

Got a friend / neighbour/ relative who can always make you smile? Give them a call, better still meet them for a cuppa. If you can’t easily get hold of your guaranteed smile making friend watch THIS TED TALK from Sarah Lewis.

When you’re stuck in a rut you need a bit of can do confidence. Creative energy is highly contagious. Talking to someone with a positive attitude you’ll feel your creative urges kicking back in. There’s no magic button here, but positive vibes go a long way.

Play that song on the headphones on the bus this lady is enjoying getting her creative mojo back

4. Play That Song

It’s in your power to build a creative habit. Play a song that holds  special meaning to you. Listen to something new by tuning into a digital radio station that you’ve not listened to before. If you want to really shake things up go for a radio in a foreign language and try to imagine what the lyrics mean from listening to the intonation. Focus on upbeat positive music. 

The best part about this hack is that you can listen to the music while you’re doing other things. Combine with Step 1 and dance around the living room.

Whether you’re driving the kids to school, taking the train to the office or boiling the kettle plug in the music and relax. Playing positive music in the background so you’re conditioning yourself to be more creative., when you connect yourself to others creativity you tap back into your own.

Beautiful woman with her eyes closed ready to draw in her sketchbook and get creative

5. Close your eyes

No seriously, get ready to actually do this now. If you want to build creativity to last a lifetime you need to let go of the fear. Grab a pencil and a piece of paper, close your eyes and draw something while you count to ten in your head. There are no rules. Now crumple up that paper and chuck it in the bin. That’s right, don’t even look at it (I caught you peaking). You’ve just been creative.

 If you did peak and then instantly told yourself something negative …

Professional suited man with zipper shhhh on lips silencing the critic and becoming the artist he is destined to be

6. Silence the inner critic

If you’re so stressed out by your fear of failure that you can’t be creative, you’re not suffering for your art, you’re just suffering. There’s always a risk that your creative endeavours will be disastrous. You might create art that no-one else wants to see. Do it anyway. If you fail start again. 

Is the inner critic is telling you what you create isn’t good enough to sell, show or brag about on social media ? Trust yourself. Know that you can improve in  any and all areas of your life with enough time dedicated and determination applied. Creativity is no different.

Who cares what the results look like? The real result you’re aiming for is the joy of creating.

Switch off social media if its leading to a comparison crisis. Don’t waste your precious time wishing you were someone else. Protect your creative time by telling the inner critic to shut up.

Need a trick to silence that inner critic right now?

Say this out loud ‘thank you for your opinion but I’m going to ignore it’.

You are creative, don’t let anyone, especially not a voice in your own head, tell you different.

Retro style timer in white hand with short nails, getting set to spend five minutes being creative

7. Set a timer

It’s alarming to discover how quickly time gets lost. Ever scroll your phone for ten minutes and realise two hours have past? To break this creative rut you need targeted time and energy.

 If you’re time-poor and overwhelmed here’s a great tip. Set a short timer. You’re going to need five minutes for this one, ideally five minutes when you won’t be interrupted.

The challenge here isn’t to make your life harder, if you can’t find five minutes then do this for two. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to and spend five minutes on something creative that you love. Write a poem, draw a picture, fingerpaint a tree. It doesn’t matter what you create, heck, it might just be a solitary line wonkily winding over a bit of scrap paper. When the five minutes is up stop.

Feel like you don’t want to stop after five minutes? Congratulations you’re out of the creative rut.

Feel like that was the longest five minutes since you got stuck on hold to the electric company? In that case I want you to go back to step one.

The timer is a great way to make more time for your creativity. If you commit to 5 minutes a day every day for a year, you’ll be astounded by what you’ve achieved at the end of it.  Protect your creative time because the rewards you’ll reap for yourself are immense. 

Let’s recap the seven steps to break out of that creative rut:

  1. Move your body
  2. Visit an exhibition
  3. Call a can do person
  4. Play that song
  5. Close your eyes and draw
  6. Silence the inner critic
  7. Set a timer

In the final scenario, to regain your creativity you need to remind yourself how much you deserve to be creative. How this is about so much more than the results. Creativity can dramatically improve your life, reduce your stress and bring you the freedom to feel more you.

You can create your own dream creative life. Most of all remember the Persian adage “this too shall pass”.

Good luck! If you’ve got any tips or tricks for how to break out of a creative rut I’d love to hear them. Comment below or find me on Instagram. 


Elizabeth Murray | MoMA work (mentioned in Sarah Lewis’ TED Talk) can be seen here

Magazine | MoMA – with video, podcasts and magazine content this will help you reconnect to the creative zeitgeist and beat that rut

Collection overview | Paintings | The National Gallery, London – don’t live close enough to drop in to one of London’s gems? Visit online and be inspired.

Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win | TED Talk – who talks about success and mastery in relation to the almost wins of life

Charlie Kirkham (@charliekirkhamart) • Instagram photos and videos

Persian origins of quote “This Too Shall Pass” The quote verifier : Ralph Keyes : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive


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