8 Ways to Get Out of a Creative Rut

By Zoco Admin

Having a creative job can be mentally demanding. Needing to constantly come up with new ideas and solutions to sometimes seemingly impossible problems can be draining. High demand creative jobs combined with chilly, rainy weather can really put you in a weird funk, especially when it comes to creativity. When the rain falls and the ideas start to wash away, try some of these tips to help shake your clouded mind.


  1. Adult coloring books

Adult coloring books are huge right now. I got three of them for Christmas this year—three! I’ve since found that coloring is really relaxing. Most of us enjoyed coloring when we were younger so these new coloring books can stir feelings of nostalgia and trigger new thought direction. When you’re coloring, don’t think too much about what your coloring—just color. Freeing your mind and letting it do its thing is really helpful when stressed or in a rut. The mind starts to wander and it can organically lead to solutions to problems or new ideas.


go outside

  1. Go outside

You’ve heard this before, but really—go outside! Go for a walk, go hiking, ride your bike, or just sit on your porch. Get that fresh air in your lungs and enjoy nature. Even when it’s cold outside, bundle up and listen to the snow fall or head downtown and do some window shopping. Something about being outside really refreshes your brain and gives you a clear head to get back to the task at hand.



  1. Read something

While it can be hard to find time to read these days, being in a creative rut is one of the best times to read. Reading takes your mind elsewhere, puts you in the shoes of another person and helps you see things from a different point of view. Magazines are even great—the different advertisements, the colors, even the materials used can spark an idea. Reading design blogs or interviews with successful designers like on The Great Discontent is especially motivating and helps get you into gear to keep creating.



  1. Clean something

Everybody knows cleaning is a great way to procrastinate, but it can also be a great way to realign your thoughts. Go through your closet, sort through old things. You might come across old yearbooks, trinkets you’ve collected through the years, or your favorite band t-shirt from 2005. Seeing things from your past is very nostalgic and can trigger memories that lead to new ideas.


change environment

  1. Change your environment

Some days while trying to work, you might come to the overwhelming realization that you’re sitting at the same desk with the same background noise, with the same notebook that you write in every day with the same pen, and it all starts to feel very constricting. Go somewhere else. Take your laptop and your notebook and pen, and bring it somewhere new. Go to your favorite coffee shop or to a nearby park. Putting yourself in a new place changes things up and gives you new perspective.


cook something

  1. Cook something

For some of us, cooking is not a forte—but can be relaxing. Step away from what you’re struggling with, find a new recipe online and go for it. If you’re comfortable, get creative with it. This idea goes back to letting your mind wander and letting new thoughts come to you naturally. Doing something that’s creative, but different from your norm keeps the creative juices flowing but takes your focus somewhere else.


stay busy

  1. Stay busy

Set yourself up to have multiple projects going on at once. If you’re struggling with something, leave it and hop to one of your other projects. Keep creating, even if it’s for something different. It can be exhilarating to keep your mind moving and moving until—aha! You think of a solution to that other thing you were working on earlier.


take a break

  1. On the other hand, take a break!

Burn-out is real. If you keep your mind moving and moving for too long, after awhile it just flops. You can’t focus, you’re not coming up with new ideas, so it’s best to step away and come back to it. Unplug. Take a nap. Sometimes when napping, you hit that sweet spot when you’re slowly waking up, but still dreaming—that’s when the best ideas come. And on top of that, taking a nap leaves you feeling refreshed so you can restart with new eyes.
Struggling with creativity happens to everybody. It can be frustrating to find yourself stuck in a rut but it all comes down to being patient and finding ways to stay inspired. Creativity can’t be turned on or off at will—It comes in waves and sometimes when you least expect it. So do something different, let your mind do its thing and soon enough the ideas will emerge.


-Molli Ross

Zoco Admin