WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU'RE IN A CREATIVE RUT
I’ve been sat here trying to begin this piece for a while now, and I’m struggling. Why? Because I’m in a creative rut. Yep, you heard me. I’ve been home from university all summer, and it’s safe to say that home isn’t exactly inspiring. It’s not a place that sparks much creative passion within me. I’ve been away from everything that motivates me for over three months now and I’m starting to get restless; there is so much I want to do, but can’t because I’m not in London. I know I’m not the only one like this either. Creative minds are a complex and mindboggling array of ideas, ruts, self-doubt and passion; every mind needs a certain environment in which it can thrive, and while these environments are completely unique to every individual, an inspiring surrounding is paramount.
Personally, I’ve always been a creatively driven soul. The idea of expressing oneself through art forms has always fascinated me in a way nothing else has. It started off with my clothes, and from there evolved into styling, photography, videography, graphics, writing…the list goes on. Realising my profound love of styling led me to discover numerous creative and visual ways in which to present this love of mine to the world. I’m always happiest when creating, and that’s a fact. However, I’m not always creating. Inspiration and motivation comes in waves for a lot of people, so while one week we may have a billion ideas and crazy motivation levels, the next week you could find me in bed at 3pm surrounded by crisp packets watching season 5 of Gilmore Girls on Netflix because I'm feeling so uninspired.
The creative rut is a sticky situation and more often than not, it strikes at the most inconvenient of times, aka mid-project or deadline season. I’m currently brainstorming my final major project for university; in June I did pages and pages of research but after two weeks of passionate work I stopped. I didn’t look at that project for another three months because my spark burnt out from being away from friends, the city, and its energy. Consequently, I slipped into a serious rut and wallowed in artist’s self-pity for a while. Lack of inspo often comes with a serious bout of self-doubt too, one that gnaws away at you until you snap. I spent months saying, “I can’t pull this project off, I’m not good enough…blah blah blah,” and quite frankly it was annoying for people to hear. My friends aren’t too fond of my self-loathing, which means that I always end up pulling myself together.
If you’re really stuck and need a quick and simple way to get started on the road to inspiration, load up Instagram or Pinterest, pick up a zine, and listen to some music. I’m always scrolling through Pinterest and listening to music to keep my mind stimulated because I can do it from the glory of my own bed. I’m that girl who envisions films in my head whenever I listen to a song and then tries to bring it to fruition. Save pictures you love, read articles, but more importantly make notes on what you see. I always like to keep a notebook with me to scribble in whenever I get an idea; although it is an absolutely unorganized mess of a book, it helps me a lot to jot down ideas because it makes them something more tangible.
Use your city or town! No matter where you are there is inspiration. Given that I spend most of my days in London, I do realize that I’m pretty spoiled on this front. But in any town, if you walk round and start taking photos, inspiration will be found; there’s something about having a camera in your hand that brings a flow of ideas out of the woodwork. Visiting galleries and museums are also one of the best things you can do to keep ideas flowing.
While you’re taking a stroll around town, make sure to people watch. People watching is one of my favourite things to do. Someone’s outfit, movements, hair, makeup, and speech could be a powerful trigger for a brilliant idea.
Finally, the best piece of advice I can offer is to socialize. Go out, make friends, network, and just be social because it’s people who will inspire you most. My friends and I all have different talents and strengths and when brought together, pretty great things happen. One of my BFFs studies womenswear design and whenever I see her work I want to style it and shoot it. The people around you can be the best source of inspiration and it’s worth noting that it’s the people you know now that will be in the industry with you in the future. Someday, my friend may have her own label and may want me to work with her, or vice versa.
While creative ruts can sometimes feel like the end of the world as we know it, they really aren’t. Don’t feel dismayed if you get stuck because everyone feels the same way at some point. If you are in a rut, try to get yourself online or out the door and just experience the world around you because there are plenty of ideas waiting to be found.