THE INC. LIFE

Uninspired and Burned Out? Here Are 4 Ways to Get Out Of That Creative Slump

Creative ruts are a fact of life—it’s how we deal with them that makes all the difference

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BY Cristina Morales - 18 May 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

When ideas are your bread and butter, creative slumps can leave you riddled with anxiety and self-doubt—not exactly the most helpful emotions when you’re trying to get out of a rut. As Marla Tabaka wrote in her Inc.com article “4 Secrets to Overcoming Creative Blocks”, creative minds from all fields hit a wall at one point or another.

But you can’t just give up every time you hit a wall. Here are some things you can do to grease those creative gears.

1. Take a walk

Great thinkers, from Aristotle to William Wordsworth to Steve Jobs, took walks to help come up with ideas, and it’s even been scientifically proven that walking improves creativity.

“Strolling along the beautiful marina at Sentosa Cove, plus people and dog-watching at one of the cafes along the strip, helps,” Roslyn Teng, co-founder of Singaporean subscription lifestyle service Made Real, says in this Inc. Southeast Asia article.

2. Get a change of scenery

When you’re struggling to find inspiration, going somewhere totally foreign and new is a good way to reset and see the world with fresh eyes. That’s why plenty of creatives, including Philip Cheang, co-founder of Philippine software development and design firm By Implication, travel to come up with new ideas.

“When I am abroad or traveling, I do find inspiration unexpectedly,” Cheang says in the aforementioned Inc. Southeast Asia article. “I often stumble upon and note down interesting transit products, behaviors, and design when traveling, and perhaps this is also why I like walking: because it opens you up to random occasions of discovery.”

3. Talk to a friend or mentor

When confronted with a problem that you just can’t get your head around, it often helps to get the perspective of others. “Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and everyone has different experiences,” says Tim Michael, co-founder of Manila-based real estate platform Get.place, in one of the panel discussions at the last Inc. 40 Philippines Forum. “You probably can’t find that one person who can mentor you in everything because nobody is an expert in everything. I just look for someone who has been in a similar situation before.”

4. Do the work

Ask any accomplished writer what they do to overcome writer’s block and their advice will boil down to one simple piece of advice: just do it. Though getting some downtime is definitely a good idea when you’re feeling like you’re at the end of your rope, not all of us have the luxury of doing so.

Sometimes, the answer to getting out of a rut lies in just sitting at your desk and doing the work. Plodding on faithfully sans inspiration doesn’t sound appealing, but building the discipline to work through less-then-ideal circumstances will allow you to know exactly what to do with inspiration when it does come. And it will.