By Anna Valdez
Web Content Contributor
I think one of the most challenging things about creative expression is sometimes lacking the energy to simply do it. Whether you like making music, taking photos or other forms of expression, you may find yourself in a creative rut from time to time.
A creative rut is basically a dry spell in one’s creative process, making it difficult for a person to tap into their inner ideas to produce original and often artistic work. According to GoodTherapy, those in creative professions such as writers, musicians, performers and artists are more likely to be affected by these type of ruts (also referred to as “creative blocks”); it can affect a person’s work, performance and overall well-being.
However, seeking help from a mental health professional may help in dealing with creative blocks and tapping back into one’s creativity. Creative blocks can last anywhere from days to years depending on the individual. Everyone copes with creative blocks differently, but there are common ways in dealing with a lack of inspiration and production.
One way to tackle a creative block is to start off by understanding the problem at hand. By doing research and learning when, how and why a creative block occurs, it allows a person to become aware of the issue and find a workable solution to prevent it from happening again.
As creators, we are often our own worst critic. While critiquing one’s own work can be helpful, we often let our thoughts go astray and bring ourselves down. Sometimes our inner critic is harsh and prevents us from getting any work done. Creative blocks affect everyone in different ways, but I think some of the common pressures we face as creators can be traced back to a need for approval and not being patient with ourselves. These elements can stifle the creative process, all due to an inner voice in our heads that tells us that the work we’re putting in (or lack thereof) is not enough. However, this is simply not true. It’s important to remember that any amount of effort that you put into something you are passionate about is worth noting.
As author Jeffrey Eugenides once said in an article for the New Yorker, “No one is waiting for you to write your first book. No one cares if you finish it. But after your first, if it goes well, everyone seems to be waiting.” The next time it feels like your inner critic is being a bit overbearing, try finding ways to compliment yourself and your work instead. Be your own motivator but also be patient with yourself.
Creative blocks can also occur as a result of the passing of a loved one, the end of a relationship, a lack of financial support, the depletion of all creative energy after a fully immerse period of creating and more. You can find a list of other root causes here.
Another factor that can lead to a creative block is fear. Like my previous point, creators often fear that their work will go unnoticed. This fear of rejection or failure keeps us from making progress; it’s like a giant block that keeps you from moving forward with your personal goals. Another aspect of fear is the feeling of uncertainty when dealing with the unknown. For instance, an artist might worry about delving into a certain topic for fear of the audience’s reaction and think, what if I get bashed online? I suppose anyone would agree that sometimes the discussion of certain ideas comes with consequences.
After all, life is about taking risks. Unforeseen circumstances shouldn’t keep you from expressing yourself. Instead of thinking of the worst possible thing that could happen, try switching your perspective on the matter. What if something great comes out of sharing your ideas? You never know until you try. So the next time you feel fear knocking at your door, make like Nike and just do it!
Breaking free from a creative rut is difficult but not impossible. Most people experience them some time in their life, so you’re not alone in dealing with this frustrating cycle. Through education, self-motivation and taking healthy risks, you can change your creative process to prevent a future creative block from occurring. Life is too short not to express ourselves and share our talents with the world. There is hope for artists and always will be.
Featured image by Anna Valdez.