Stuck in a Creative Rut: The Creative Slump.

Has this every happened to you? You are working on your creation. Perhaps it is your new song, poem, book chapter, painting, or script idea. Then BANG, you can’t get it to go the way you want it to. It’s like your thoughts went to sleep. You say, I’ll take a little break and come back. You come back and it feels like a concert of crickets. Nothing, nada, zip.

What a dumb question that was to ask, wasn’t it? All artists have creative slumps. We all get caught in the loop that has become so common nowadays that it’s widely discussed in creative writing topics, art therapy, and more.

It can cause artist depression. You have to know that you are not alone in this. It’s an experience that even the most revered and legendary creative people experience. We all come back from it differently and the more you go through it the better you will get finding ways to make it stop. I’ve found some ways that help me with this.


Stop. Just stop.

When working on a painting and you start feeling that creative watching paint dry feel,  stop painting. I used to have this horrible tendency to try to keep going. By the time I did stop, the painting was not only bad, but nothing like what I was going for. It was over painted. It was a hot mess.

Some artists feel like it’s wrong to stop in the middle of a painting. Not if you stop and take a breath, make a drink, eat a sandwich, then go back and look at what you’ve done so far. Do you still see your vision? Did your art mind make a left when you wanted to make a right? Now you can decide which direction you want to go with the piece. Oh, you crazy creative mind!

Let’s Disco!

As I stated in my previous blog Keeping a zen of peace, the creative process can be quite unusual.  I like to activate my senses when being creative. I have to say I have the same mentality when it comes to revving up my thoughts when I’m in a creative slump. Creative Depression and angst can happen to us at any time. When you feel that split-second of control, child you better get moving!
Shazam, the kid in you will awaken! Let’s put on some really funky house music and dance and have the best time! Because as you know, House music is a feeling. Jump into every quick moment you get! Play your favorite song! Eat your favorite food! Call your favorite person out of the blue just to say hello! When you have done this and feel like you ready to hit that piece of creativity, go back and review everything about it. What is it telling you? Smash or trash? Follow your artistic heart and keep dancing.


I am prone to taking that random walk around in a strange unknown neighborhood. Let’s go into that store I pass all the time but never go in because I feel they won’t have anything I want. Let’s take a different route to work. Let’s have a greasy cheeseburger(not my usual thing). When life gets me down, I am notorious for going out and buying a brand new hat. Seriously! A brand new hat! Perhaps it’s a dude thing. I don’t know but I like it!
Hopefully you get my technique here. Sometimes the rut is not in the art but in us. We tend to casually ride the merry-go-round every day. Now and then, Just jump off! Scrape your knee, oh well, there’s something to write or sing about. Tada!

Do the Process Differently

Now here is a crazy thought. Trust me, It might be crazy to some of you. Do you type your poems? Write them by hand.

Do you practice your songs in the mirror? Practice them in front of a friend your trust. Do you paint your art directly? Draw it first. Do you outline your book and then write chapter by chapter? Skip a chapter. Do you scribble everything in a notebook? Try using a voice recorder. Do you sketch your cartoons with color pencils? Use a crayon. Do you make your fashion design on a mannequin? Make it on a Barbie doll. Do you write your songs verses first? Write the chorus first.

We’ve experienced this on our jobs. Teamwork vs. working alone. You have a project that you need done. It starts well, you hit a snag. You ask for assistance. The person you ask has a completely different process to getting this done. You either embrace the new ideas or you have an epiphany and do it your way. Who cares! It gets done right? Creating art can be this way sometimes. Amazing, huh?

Told you it would be a bit crazy. Sometimes your art isn’t in a rut, Your process is. Shake it up! You may discover that the odd new way is a blessing. You may also hate it and go back to your regular way of doing things with a new appreciation. Oh, colored pencils, I never knew how wonderful we were together until I messed around with those horrible, childish crayons. Let’s make beautiful drawings together again. Que “Endless Love”.

Reflect upon who you are as an artist

You are an artistic being. You are daring, different, and unique. Maybe my ideas will work for you, maybe not so much. Here’s the most important thing to remember. You can create ways out of a creative rut just as you create your own individual art. The entire thing hinges on your personality and your skills. Don’t let your art become an unruly child.

What are some ways you shake a slump? How do you get out of your rut, or combat that depressed feeling when you are working on something and you can’t get it just right. I would love to know. Feel free to leave a comment giving your technique.

Until next time,
That Creative Dude!

(side note: I sometimes add links to stuff I like that might help you, sometimes I get paid for them, costs you nothing but it helps me out. )

One thought on “Stuck in a Creative Rut: The Creative Slump.

  1. This is the most helpful blog I’ve truly ever read. I’ll never forget the advice you gave me when I told you the novel I was working on my brain would automatically jump to the other 3 novels and I had a messy rough-draft. You said “Novels are like children, sometimes you have to make the others wait.” That’s the best advice I’ve been given. I’ve done a lot of research and I’ve read many books on writing a best seller. None of it has hit me the way your blog has. I look forward, with a new enthusiasm, as I come out of my artistic slump and flourish my blank screen with new ideas and creative ways to complete my rough draft.

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