How to Get Inspired When In a Creative Rut
Get out of your head!
Have you ever been looking at one particular project for too long and feel stuck, like finalizing the dialog of a short script or trying to finish the last 10% on a video edit? It's okay, it happens to everyone (and if not, how did you gain superpowers?). After working on something for an extended period of time, you can start to become jaded and lose perspective on what to do next. Below are a few simple things that I like to do when I need to take a step back and recharge my creativity.
Take in some nature
Fresh air and sunlight are sometimes all you need to feel refreshed since they are scientifically known to put you in a better mood. Walking away from your work for a bit and going for a stroll can help put you back on track when you return. You can keep it short with a walk around your block, or make it a day trip to visit your local botanical garden. Getting outside and letting the sun hit your skin can truly help give you that mental reset that you need.
DISCLAIMER: Stay safe and mindful when collaborating in person during our current pandemic situation. Be smart!
Sometimes, all you need is another person to help break you out of your rut. Human interaction, collaboration, and encouragement can go a very long way, and another person's view can be just the motivation you need to get the wheels turning. It doesn't have to be in person either. Video calling and texting can substitute for in-person collaboration for the time being.
Watch a movie you might not usually be interested in
It's good to get outside your comfort zone, even when it comes to something as simple as watching movies and TV shows. Try viewing a genre or subject that you usually aren't interested in. Do you refuse to watch foreign films strictly because they have subtitles? Don't let them scare you, because you really only notice them for the first minute or two. After that, it's just like watching any other movie. I'm not necessarily saying go watch something you know you are going to hate, because that won't help anything, but viewing something that you don’t normally expose yourself to could spark a new type of idea you might not typically have. And hey, you'll probably end up really enjoying whatever you watch!
Learn a new skill
Get into a different headspace by trying to learn something new! This can be an entirely new hobby like woodworking, or by just adding additional techniques to your current skill set, like watching tutorials for Adobe software. You may be able to get some new outlooks on a project from playing around in a completely different field. A new idea can come out of nowhere this way.
Read some local news headlines
This one is more specific to coming up with short stories and script ideas, but I still have to share it. A news headline can be so bizarre sometimes, that I can't help but picture it as a short film. And local news has much more personal and relatable stories compared to national news, so it's fun to look into those specifically. Once you see a potential idea in a newsfeed, just start building on top of that.
For example, maybe a headline is "Local Priest Caught Stealing". Oh wow okay, now I'm intrigued. I keep reading through the article, and it says things he stole a pair of shoes at the mall. Well, now I can start crafting a plot from that. Why did he need those shoes so badly that he had to steal them? Does he just need to sell them to make some money, or is he being forced against his will? You can then continue to build upon the foundation of a real story, and all you did was look at some local news headlines.
Scroll through other artists' social feeds
It might sound counter-intuitive to go on social media to break out of a rut, but you can still potentially find something that ignites a spark of creativity by looking at other people's work. Instagram is probably my favorite for this, since creatives use IG as a secondary portfolio these days. Pinterest is surprisingly awesome for curating amazing ideas too. As Pablo Picasso once said, “bad artists copy, great artists steal”, and there's so much truth to that. There's nothing wrong with stumbling across someone else's work and getting inspired!
Do literally anything else
Duh, do something else he says, great advice. But for real, walk away from your screen for a bit. Cook, clean, exercise, sleep, whatever. Stimulate your mind in a different way and put your full focus into something else. Separating yourself from your current project is probably the best thing to do, so when you come back to it with a fresh mindset, you'll be able to see things that you weren't seeing before.
It's not always easy to get your brain to think creatively at the snap of a finger, especially after feeling burnout while working on one project for so long. But if you are to take away one thing from this post, it should be that sometimes you just need a mental "hard reset". It can be done whatever way suits you best, just as long as it helps kickstart your creativity.
What are some of your ways to get back to being creative? Post in the comments or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
If you want to connect, here are my social handles:
Portfolio Site - www.jhmotion.com
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnphansel/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/jh.motion/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/jphansel2/