Ruts are the worst. Creative ruts are the worst kinds in my opinion. Sometimes I’m just… not feeling it. “It” being whatever is going on in my life. I don’t feel energized by my work. My closet bores me. Activities and events seem lackluster.
A bad day here and there is to be expected, of course, but when it drags on for a couple (or more) days, then I know it’s time to seek inspiration. I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to finding new inspiration, but the best trick I have?
Changing my perspective.
Now, in typical Carly fashion, this has countless different applications. Whenever I change my perspective, in whatever form it happens to take, I end up feeling like someone has implanted a whole new brain in my head. The ideas, it seems, really start flowing!
Here are some ways you can change your perspective:
Rearrange some things // This is going to sound ridiculous, but I moved the location of my bed last year and turned it so it faced my closet instead of the windows. For whatever reason– perhaps some feng shui came into play– I slept so much better. I fell asleep faster and woke up feeling better. I do this with my desk from time to time as well. I’ll switch out pens, change my notepads, move some things around… I’ll even get into my desktop computer and re-organize the files.
– If you have the space, try moving your desk to face a new direction, like the windows.
– Clear off your desk and recreate a streamlined set up
– Spend an afternoon organizing files (paper and digital)
Move // What better way to change your perspective than to literally change your perspective. In college, I always worked at the same table in the library, getting there at 6am to secure the location. Because it was the same spot every time, it provided a safe, secure spot to study 99% of the time. But sometimes… I just needed to move. A quiet nook in the dungeon (aka basement) of the library, a new coffee shop, or even the floor of a friend’s dorm room could be just the ticket to a re-inspired paper-writing session.
– Try out a new coffee shop
– Spread out on the floor
– Trade your favorite floor in the library for a louder (or quieter) one
Get moving // Different than the “move” note, even though it seems similar. When I need to change my perspective, one of the easiest– but most often forgotten– things to do is just to go for a walk. I find that I often just feel like I need to “power through” the rut… which ends up with me basically banging my head against my desk and rewriting something 400 times and getting absolutely nowhere. Walks, even short ones down the street, help me think about different things. It’s almost like my brain opens up and gets rid of the thoughts and clutter that are causing the rut! I try to let my mind wander as much as I can when I’m walking around. During a particularly bad rut, you know when it lasts for like a week, I really feel like I put the miles in. I will walk everywhere. Just to try to clear my brain. And just when I think the rut is the new normal, it disappears!
– Go for a run, take a yoga class, find a friend to walk with
– Take the stairs instead of the elevator
– Window shop in a mall
Delve into a black hole // I normally try to avoid getting sucked into a black hole of the internet. But when it comes to ruts, sometimes you have to do something a bit different! I personally love Youtube black holes because it seriously helps me stop thinking about my problem and focus completely (almost blindly) on something totally different. Pinterest is also great, but try to fill your feed with some new boards so you’re not seeing things that you’re used to. Another great option if you’re feeling bold, the NY Times. Read until you can read no more!
– Swap out the book you’re reading for one that you read about online
– Play the “Genghis Khan” game on Wikipedia (click “random article” and try to get to the page on Genghis Khan in three clicks
– Teach yourself how to do something new with Youtube videos
Look at the problem differently // Well, duh, right? It’s so much easier said than done I’ll admit… but it’s worth the exercise. Think you know everything about the problem, but there are probably holes in your theories. (In fact, there’s definitely a hole… you’re in a rut!!) Put on your devil’s advocate hat and poke holes left in right. (I always try to channel that student who tries to find flaws in the professors statement or that friend that always finds something wrong with everything.)
– Write down five possibilities and dissect what makes them wrong (i.e. their fatal flaw)
– Come up with the craziest, out-of-this-world ideas that could solve the problem– alien invasions? okay! Push your limits in your thinking!
– Shoot off ideas at a rapid pace and don’t hold yourself back or think any answer is wrong, just go
Do you have tips for getting out of a rut and finding new inspiration?