A few months ago, I dedicated myself to the blog like never before. Why? Because I had just gone 5 months with practically no blog posts . In fact, if you want to know the full (cringe-worthy) details, I published only 6 posts throughout that time, had disappeared from Instagram for months, and had neglected my Facebook page so much that people probably thought my blog and I had disappeared down a black hole, never to be heard from again.
So when it comes to blogging, this is what not to do.
If I learned one thing during that time, it was to never neglect my blog like that again. But since my school and work schedule often leaves me too busy to write blog posts, I decided to try a different route: mass-writing as many blog posts as I could during my breaks and schedule them throughout the semester. This really turned the tables for me. I was going from barely writing anything over the course of months to writing a bunch of posts all at once. The farther I got into the break, the more time I spent each night brainstorming, writing, editing, and designing. I was determined not to fail my blog yet again.
I should’ve expected it. After all, I went from barely pushing myself creatively to trying to write an entire semester’s worth of content in a matter of weeks! That’s why, halfway through my blogging spree, I crashed. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t brainstorm. I couldn’t get inspired by anything, no matter how long and hard I tried. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to. It was that I literally couldn’t put my thoughts and ideas to paper, no matter how long I stared at my computer.
This wasn’t good. I was on a deadline, after all! I didn’t want to be slipping back into another blogging slump.
Thankfully, it wasn’t something quite as drastic as that. Instead, it was a creative rut, the sworn enemy of all writers, designers, and entrepreneurs out there. While there’s no magic cure that works on everyone, there are several steps you can take to stimulate yourself creatively and get back on track.
1) Take a Mini Vacation (a.k.a. GET AWAY FROM IT!)
If you detect the signs of a creative rut coming on, the first step is to always get away from whatever is causing it. Trying to write? Step away from the computer! Creating a design? Shut down that software right now! There’s a difference between working through a creative rut and burning yourself out. I know it’s hard to give in and step away from it (believe me, I once stared at my computer for 5 hours before giving up on a design I was working on), but trying to suck it up and ride it out is actually going to hurt you more in the long run. After all, sometimes all you need to do is step away for a half hour before the perfect solution will come to you. Other times, all you need is a good night’s sleep. You’ll know when it’s the right time to come back to the project, but until then, take a mental break.
2) Work on Something Different
I’ve never been the type of person to sit around and do nothing. If I’m watching T.V., I’m probably cleaning my room at the same. If I’m on the bus, you’ll find me studying class notes or reading the news. To me, wasted time is wasted opportunities, so a creative rut that kills both my patience and my time is my worst nightmare.
However, I’ve found that working on something entirely different will help clear my head and re-inspire me. It doesn’t even need to be related to the project itself! Just the other day I did a deep clean and organization of my entire pantry and sure enough, I was back writing and editing an entire blog post a few hours later, with outlines for two more. (But of course inspiration always hits me at 11 o’clock at night, so it’s not like I could get all of them done before falling asleep. 😂)
And again, when I hit a big creative rut with the blog a few weeks ago, I decided to fuel all of my energy into a craft I was making for friends instead. Sure enough, I was back at my computer within a few days, feeling more inspired than ever.
So what I’m trying to say is, while these breaks can sometimes seem like you’re wasting time, you’re actually gaining it. I’ve found that I can write a blog post much faster and easier after taking a break and working on something different. Compare that to the amount of time I would’ve spent on the same post if I had forced myself to work through the creative rut, and you’ll find that I saved myself a lot of time and energy in the long run!
Stuck on what to work on? Here are some ideas:
- Blog graphics: Creating a new set of graphics is one of my favorite past times, and can be so helpful because you’re still working on the blog, even if you’re not writing. Luckily, I have an amazing post on 10 Foolproof Ways to Brainstorm and Design the Perfect Pinterest Graphic to help get you started.
- Clean: For some reason, doing a deep clean and getting rid of clutter helps to clear my head just as much as I’ve cleaned the room, usually leading to huge bursts of inspiration….the perfect way to multitask and get some great ideas!
- Reading: There’s no doubt that a creative rut can be frustrating, and sometimes frustration in itself is what’s stopping you from whatever project you’re working on. Take some time to read, do some puzzles, or anything else that will help you relax and take some time away from what you’re working on. Oftentimes, the perfect idea may come to you while your away from it, or when you do go back to it you’ll have a new, clearer sense of the problem.
- Do A Photo Shoot: If you’re a blogger, you’re more than aware of the constant demand for high-quality photos. You need them for featured photos, Pinterest graphics, in-post photos, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. The list goes on and on. Luckily, photo shoots can be a ton of fun, and help your blog while also getting you away from whatever you’re stuck on!
3) Retrace Your Steps
Like I said before, my blasts of inspiration always come at the most inconvenient of times, but usually somewhere close to 11 or 12 o’clock at night. If I’m not working or going to school the next day it’s completely fine, and I’ll just spend my night typing away at my computer. But if I do work/go to school the next day (which is much more likely), then I can’t spend all night blogging without the risk of falling asleep in class. Unfortunately, this usually means I have to stop writing a blog post halfway through to get some sleep.
This would be great and all, but there’s only one problem: I have the worst ability to pick up where I left off the day before. Maybe it’s just me, but I get into a certain groove when writing and I can’t stop unless I want to risk not being able to pick it back up at all. (Okay, maybe that’s a bit exaggerated, but you know what I mean.) Just another creative rut to add to my list.
So what do I do? Simple: I re-trace my steps. Whether it’s a blog post or an interior design project for class, I find I can usually get un-stuck simply by re-tracing the steps and thought processes from where I started to where I left off. Then I can easily pick it up again and finish! In fact, that’s what I had to do with this blog post. 😅
4) Improve On what’s Already Been Done
Sometimes when I get in a creative rut, it’s not because I’m not inspired to work on the blog; it’s because I have no clue what to write. So rather than stare at the blinking cursor for the rest of infinity, I’ll usually turn to improving on what I’ve already done. Whether it’s revamping an old post or adding some new pictures, there’s always something I can do to improve my blog. Even better, going through old content and other things I’ve already done can give me new ideas on what to write. Then, BOOM! Writer’s block over. Creative rut demolished. You’re welcome.
5) BRAINSTORM! (…and don’t overthink it)
If you’ve ever met me in real life, you know that I like to over-complicate things, like the time I submitted a 70-page short story in my 9th grade creative writing class or the time I created a model of the London Eye for a book project that actually rotated and was powered by a small motor and electricity. It’s not on purpose, it’s just my natural persona to make things as over-the-top as possible.
However, this is also one of my greatest flaws: an answer could be right in my face and I wouldn’t even see it. That’s why, when it comes to creative ruts, one of the ways break out of it is with a whole lot of brainstorming and forcing myself to not overthink the solution. A great solution isn’t always the most elusive or complex one. So take a step back and take another look at the situation. Brainstorm a list of ideas or look at what’s right in front of you; the answer could be hiding right there.
Creative ruts are a pain; there’s simply no other way to put it. But they don’t have to be the end of the world. By following these 5 tips, you can demolish your creative rut and get back on track with your project with less stress than ever before.