As one who has been squirming inside a creative rut for quite some time, it recently occurred to me that my efforts to dig myself out of the rut might make good fodder for a blog. I had this plan to publicly chronicle my anguish in hopes that readers would learn something valuable from my struggle, not unlike celebrities who broadcast their colonoscopies or liposuction procedures to raise awareness about public health and whatnot. But I hit a snag. So firmly entrenched was I in this creative rut that, even after hours of research, I really had nothing but garbage to share. That's when my inherently efficient nature kicked in. "EUREKA!" I thought! "I'll have someone else write the blog ... someone not currently in a creative rut!" And that's precisely what I did. Yes, I reached out to people I find incredibly inspiring and asked them the question "What do YOU do when you find yourself in a creative rut?" I received some fantastic responses, all of which I'll be sharing with you over the coming weeks.
We'll kick things off with a very insightful response I received from a man who simply goes by "Vegan Black Metal Chef." His name pretty much says all you need to know: he's a vegan who hosts a web-based video series that is half cooking show, half black metal music video. Here's what the good chef had to share with us on overcoming creative blocks.
Vegan Black Metal Chef
"Creative blocks are a natural part of this process as anyone who does anything creative knows. One is not ‘on' all the time. Here are a few of the things I do to get myself out of a rut."
Have a purpose — Why are you doing what you are doing? Be sure to begin with the end in mind on what you want. This purpose does not prevent blocks, but gives the power to get through them. If you are not enjoying what you are doing and do not have a purpose for doing it, life is going to suck. Yes your life.
Keep on Keeping on — With that said purpose in mind, when blocks arise... do something, do ANYTHING to just keep hacking at the problem. Even if it is something uncreative, there are usually creative and uncreative parts of any project. Keep doing whatever you can while you think of a solution.
Keep learning something new in your field every day — Seriously, take some time each and every day to sharpen your skills even .001 percent. Years down the road when you have amassed a lot of skill, .001 percent at that level is a lot compared to the person just starting out. Its effects are compounding. Watch youtube videos in your field to get inspiration.
Liberate yourself to acquire the tools you need to have the most fun — If the tools are hardware, software, or education (or all of them), liberate yourself to spend the time, money, and energy required to obtain them.
Have fun in life — The rest of the valley prepares one to climb the next peak. If you are constantly climbing peaks you will come to hate them rather than enjoy their victory. Eventually you may see a peak that is too hard for you to climb at your current worn out level.
Learn how you work best — I have learned that my body has visceral reactions to deadlines concerning creative projects. Every time I have a self imposed or not self imposed deadline, I waste more energy thinking about how stressed I am than I put into the projects. If you enjoy what you are doing (not trying to avoid it) then you will still get things done in a timely fashion.
Alternate creative activities throughout the day with something mechanical if possible — Doing constant creativity can usually lead to burn out, but if you mix it in with something mechanical, even monotonous uncreative work that keeps leading you toward you goal it provides a good brain break.
Personally, as a member of the meat-eating, non-black-metal-listening-to population, I greatly respect what Vegan Black Metal Chef is doing: informing and rapidly expanding his audience in a creative (and often hilarious) way. A quick note of caution: below, I have provided a link to his YouTube channel for those wishing to explore Vegan Black Metal Chef. The content (language) you'll encounter may be found offensive by some, so just a heads up there. Enjoy! And be sure to stay tuned as we share other responses we've received over the coming weeks.