Every so often, you’re bound to get in a creative rut. And when your creative outlet is what helps you find fulfillment and maintain your mental health, ruts feel terrible and invite self-criticism. If they’re bad enough, you can begin to spiral and question your abilities. Here are some ways to challenge yourself creatively so you can rest from your many responsibilities, express yourself, and come back refreshed.
Limit Your Medium
Being inventive doesn’t always mean finding something new. No matter how you get away and express yourself, there are ways to limit what you can use to grow your ability and find new ways to be creative. If you’re often writing, choose to write in very simple language the entire time. Look up the most used words and restrict yourself to the top 100, then see if you can create a story or poem that you like. Or don’t allow your sentences to be longer than 20 words and practice being succinct.
If you want to paint in a different way, try limiting your color palette to see if this gives you some new ideas. Having just a few colors challenges you to combine them in novel ways and lends a unity to your work that you may have been missing recently. It’s interesting to play with shades of one color in as many ways as possible. All these ways of limiting your medium allow you to see your work differently and help you feel fulfilled as you do it.
Switch Up Your Daily Routine
One general way to challenge your creative process is to disrupt your daily routine. How we go about our day determines how we see the world. The time we drive the kids to school dictates what the sky looks like to us, where we get coffee decides what flavors we taste, and the clothes we wear play into how we think about ourselves. Change as much as you can (maybe not when you drive the kids to school) to see, taste, and touch the world differently. Shaking up how your senses interact with your surroundings lends to different and encouraging ways of approaching your art.
Find Ways to Learn More
There’s no end to the schooling you can access over the internet or in-person that’s geared towards your craft. Enroll in a writing class at a community college, learn more about the history of different painting methods with an online course, or even look at online videos centered on whatever you do. However you can manage it, try to incorporate others’ ideas into your projects. Once you’ve understood and practiced them, you can then improvise and add your own touch.
Have Coffee with Someone for Inspiration
Sometimes, sitting down with another person helps you see what you do in a different light. You can seek out either a more experienced artist with specific advice or just have someone hear out your concerns. These meetings are always encouraging because you feel heard by another person, and they may lead you to new pathways for your artistic practice. Often, all you need is to think about your creative rut out loud for new inspiration to hit.