How to Climb Out of a Creative Rut

4 steps you can take to free your mind
December 6, 2017

Creative block can be causing a hitch in your step or have you at a dead stop. You might be limping along on one particular project or feeling lead-footed in general. However it hits, it can be frustrating

Sometimes what your brain needs most when it’s in the creative doldrums is a change of scenery. Here are some steps you can take to free your mind.

Related: 3 Creativity-Boosting Habits, Courtesy of the Universe


In Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, authors Scott Barry Kaufman and Caroline Gregoire suggest a shower as “a place of incubation—a change of scenery from the rest of our everyday lives that’s relatively free of stimulation and distractions.” If showering isn’t convenient, step out for a stroll. Research finds walking helps shake loose new thoughts.


“Retreats are necessary for the creative mind to have uninterrupted time to wander, tinker and ultimately move great ideas to action,” writes Jeffrey Davis in The Creativity Post blog. If you can, get away by yourself for a few days. The combination of solitude, a new environment and unencumbered time can work magic on creativity. If getting away is impossible, try a 24- to 48-hour “in-house creative retreat” by arranging (with the cooperation of your family) a break from all responsibilities.

Related: How I Learned to Enjoy Being Alone


Is your office too cluttered for clear thinking? “Research has found that creative people are easily distracted by noise and by lights and different stimuli,” Gregoire says. “They have a leaky sensory filter, and that can be overwhelming.” Aim for a tranquil, but not stark, environment with only a few colors, patterns and carefully selected objects.


A bustling office can be antithetical to creativity. “Time for solitary reflection truly feeds the creative mind,” Kaufman and Gregoire write. But creative people are also abundantly open to new experiences, so unvaried solitude might also cramp the mind. If you usually work in a busy office, try working in solitude. If you usually work alone, try working among other people at a coffee shop or co-working space. “If habit and convention are the killers of creativity, then it’s the unfamiliar that gives birth to great ideas and innovation,” Kaufman and Gregoire write.

Related7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Blank Moments


This article originally appeared in the Janury 2018 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

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