10 Ways to Get Out of a Creative Rut

10 Things to Do When You’re in a Rut

Guys, I’m just going to come out and say it… I’m in a rut.

trina-turk-cobalt-striped-shirt

Yep. Yes, indeed.

You know the feeling: That annoyingly indifferent state-of-mind that just kind of lingers, making you feel like your creativity (or whatever else) has taken a permanent hiatus. It sucks, right?

If we’re being honest, I haven’t really felt like blogging lately. Maybe you’ve noticed. It’s been hard for me to write and at the moment, nothing seems to roll easily off the fingertips.

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Do you ever pay attention to the natural flows of your life? You know, seasons. (Seasons of work, play, etc.) I talked about it a lot in this post last summer (definitely worth a read), so I won’t repeat too much of it here.

This mindset has really helped alleviate guilt and stress toward the work-related expectations I project on myself — like putting up a blog post five times per week, or answering every. single. e-mail.

lifestyle-bloggers-in-new-york

The worst part about being in an “off-season” or a rut/creative lull, though, is when you can’t quite seem to put your finger on the source. Huh. Maybe it’s that job that you’re not totally sure whether or not you want to stay in — or a relationship that deep-down leaves you feeling super insecure. Or, honestly, maybe it’s the weather.

When it really comes down to it, though, I think it’s because the way you’re living isn’t in full alignment with your true self. Corny, maybe, but it’s like your life is not as awesome or authentic as you know it can be.

Here are 10 things I do every time I feel like I’m in a rut — they’re fool-proof for me, and I hope they help you, too.

1. Don’t force it. 

Lulls happen, you know? Without our valleys we wouldn’t know our peaks. The worst thing you can do is force it.

2. Change your perspective.

I use this mindset as motivation in my cycling classes, but often times when we’re presented with a challenge or something that seems too “hard,” it’s really just an opportunity in disguise. It’s up to us to figure out wherein lies the opportunity or lesson.

Easier said than done, though, which is why I…

3. Find stillness (quiet meditation).

Some days, there’s just too much internal chatter. When this happens, it means your energy is up too high in your body (or in other words, you’re way too in your own head). As a result, you start to feel disconnected, skittish and flighty. Shut up, brain!

Ring a bell?

I won’t lie — meditation is very difficult for me. Sitting completely still for, like, 10 minutes a day should be easy, right? Not the case, here.

I’ve been using an app called Headspace (highly recommend), which is essentially a series of daily, guided 10-minute meditations. It helps that I love the narrator’s voice.

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Mediation has made a huge difference in my energy levels and overall feeling of groundedness.

In some way, shape or form, you know as well as I do that you’ve got to ground yourself before your situation can change. Both feet have to be firmly on the ground in order to weather the storm, right?

Before you roll your eyes at me, try it. I promise you’ll notice a difference (and feel better).

4. Write or journal. 

If quiet meditation intimidates you, try writing things down for a few minutes a day. Tend to your thoughts closely, and replace negative ones with something a little more honesty, optimistic and positive. You’ll be surprised how your mood improves.

soulcycle nyc

5. Exercise (active meditation). 

More often than not, meditation for me comes in the form of active movement — SoulCycle, yoga, running and so on. Over time, I have learned to love exercise — mainly, how it helps me let go of the unnecessary noise in my mind.

Most of the time, we’re in our own heads analyzing things, having conversations with ourselves that aren’t serving us. Meditation — active or still — enables you to keep your attention on what’s going on now. Plus, exercising releases endorphins. That makes you feel good.

vest for running outdoors

6. Seek out that inspo. 

I am not above trolling Pinterest for inspiring quotes and sayings — some days, there’s nothing better. Find one that speaks to you, write that shit down and repeat it over and over. (Here are a few of my favorites.)

But also, be mindful to…

7. Get offline. 

For better or for worse, we’re bombarded with non-stop chatter from every angle in today’s digitally driven world. All of these voices and outside opinions are constantly telling us how to look, feel, date, dress, eat, play and more.

corals and cognacs blog at studio paris club in chicago

… Can I LIVE?

But seriously: These voices can be too much. They’ll drown out your own voice — that intuitive whisper you know you should listen to in the first place. Get away from the buzzing, get off that social media highlight reel and reconnect with what really matters.

Put down your phone, go outside and do something that reminds you how massively big our world is. 

8. Get lost in music.

It’s no secret here that I’m a big music buff. Often, it feels like an escape — kinda like reading a great book or watching a movie. Music has the opportunity to transport you to otherworldly places, or to find the way to say and articulate things you aren’t able to yourself.

You can follow what I’ve been listening to lately on Snapchat (add me here), Spotify or Soundcloud.

cute headphones, frends layla

9. Purge, purge, purge. 

Feels good to clean out your closet, doesn’t it? Same goes for your emotional well-being — too much mental clutter has a direct impact on your mood. If it doesn’t serve you, get rid of it. Often times without even realizing it, it’s the things we’re stubbornly holding on to that are actually holding us back.
trina-turk-nyc-boutique

10. Focus on in-person relationships.

This is the biggest one for me. Life is meant to be lived out loud and in-person. It is all too often that we set aside our own personal needs to prioritize our jobs. Sure, work is an important part of life — but it shouldn’t be all of it.

… After all, living your life will only inspire your work.

hallie wilson studio paris club in chicago

Ultimately, trying to manage working, blogging and a personal life is hard — and it all comes down to balance. Some days, I’m good at it. Other days, I’m not. But what’s important is that we give ourselves the grace of having “off” days or making mistakes.

Breathe, put on some lipstick and keep it movin’.

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I’m heading to a blog-focused conference this weekend in Dallas, which I imagine will be effective in re-igniting the passion and fire under my ass for wanting to kick ass on the content creation front. Always does! It’ll be great to see so many of my girlfriends from LA, Dallas and New York, too. (You are welcome to follow along on Instagram and Snapchat — @coralsncognacs).

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Photography by Lydia Hudgens and Melissa Ferrara

Join the Convo:

  • I know this feeling well! Exercise, unplugging, and most importantly – don’t force it. Such good advice!! I’m sure you’ll come back from Dallas ready to tackle it all. Have fun!!

  • Kris

    This is part of life’s natural rhythm, like high and low tide in the ocean. These “rut” times have purpose. Just dial things down and go with it. Unless something is really wrong, soon enough without even trying, you will wake up one day and feel motivated. My trick is to really succumb, binge watching shows, minimal performance for the things I have to do and a really big dose of disassociation from the world. I find that when I do that I bore myself and the rut passes so much faster. You are right, never get sad or deafeted by it.

    • I love the ocean tides reference, so perfect! Your ideas are great — I’ve been looking for a new Netflix show anyway. Thanks for sharing!

  • I go through these seasons too! Enjoy your conference!

  • I’ve been in a massive rut lately and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one going through this. I’m embarking on some rather big life changes and it’s sucking up all my energy and free time. I hope once everything is sorted and settled, I’ll be able to refocus and bring my ideas to life, but right now I can’t give my all to my blog and it’s killing me. Taking these tips to heart. Can’t wait to follow along with everyone at the conference!

    • You are definitely not alone. It has a lot to do with the shift of the world’s energy/the seasons changing, too. xo

  • Ashley Vickney

    This is exactly what I needed to hear this week! Can’t wait to try some of these tips!

  • Meagan

    Great post! I am currently reading the Happiness Project — I realize it is old, so you have probably read it, but if you haven’t, I highly recommend. It offers some unique insight on ways to understand one’s own happiness and cycles of happiness.
    -Meg
    http://www.smalltownsisters.blogspot.com

    • I just read Gretchen’s “Better than Before”. I’m about to start the “Happiness Project”. Not sure if it matters that I’m going out of “order”. LOL

      • I didn’t realize she had a second book, amazing! Thanks. You’ll enjoy Happiness Project : )

  • This post of yours could not have been more perfectly timed. lol I feel like I am sprinting in jello. I am totally trying your 10 min meditation tip tonight. Personally, I go to square breathing. In for 4 sec, hold for 4 sec, out for 4, hold for 4. Repeat. Its great for those super hectic moments when you literally don’t have time to catch your breath : )

    • Sprinting in jello is an amazing analogy, ha. Square breathing helps me fall asleep — I love it! Honestly there are more days than not that I don’t feel like going to yoga, but I always feel more centered (throughout the whole day) when I do. Namaste, Sara!

  • These are really such great tips. Have an amazing time at the conference this weekend!

  • love the real-ness of this post, I can always relate to your writing style. great tips + images!

  • I can totally relate to this post. I’m actually going to do a purge this weekend! Have fun in Dallas!

  • Needed this today! I have been in a rut and have started to feel blah with my day job. I am working on clearing my head by writing things down and I close my office door ten minutes a day to use my headspace app. (I love the narrators voice too!) I often go-go-go until I just take a weekend off and make myself relax. Getting to the perfect place takes work, but I am working on enjoying the journey and not just finishing the goal! 🙂

    Thanks for this post, Hallie!

    emily
    http://www.deltachic.com

    • Amen, sister. Sorry to hear about work — I’ve so been there, too. You’ll get to where you’re going! x

  • This post could not have come at a more perfect time for me. I’ve been in a big rut myself and it’s been hard to even get out of bed lately. It’s always good to know you’re not alone! I use Headspace too, and it’s been a game-changer for me. The narrator’s voice is heavenly (and if you Google him, he’s very easy on the eyes 😉 ) Enjoy your trip to Dallas!

  • Damn this was my absolute favorite of yours.
    Can I live?

    It’s the truth about seasons. I love the ideas here, and just need this as a legit mantra in my life!

    Also on this and meditation, I totally agree…

    Mediation has made a huge difference in my energy levels and overall feeling of groundedness.

    In some way, shape or form, you know as well as I do that you’ve got to ground yourself before your situation can change. Both feet have to be firmly on the ground in order to weather the storm, right?

    Before you roll your eyes at me, try it. I promise you’ll notice a difference (and feel better).

    Love this, need to save it for a rainy day.
    xo
    Krista
    http://www.hundredblog.com

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  • Lisa

    I love this post, and can totally relate to being in a rut.

  • Bethany

    Such a great post! I feel this way about fitness and am trying to get back into my routines. I just downloaded headspace- excited to try it out!

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  • I loved this post. I feel like i’ve been in a rut at my day-job, blogging and at home (that’s good right – being in a rut in all facets of your life). I feel kind of stuck out in space and there’s too many different ways to go so I just do none of them (also productive, right?).

    Glad to hear i’m not alone. I’m not quite sure I can hang with the meditation but I may give it a go – especially to hear all the love that narrator is getting in the comments.

    Hope you had fun in Dallas (looked like a blast on Snapchat) and please keep the music coming on soundcloud. You’re my favorite follow.
    xo

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  • just found your website and have spent a solid 20 minutes on it- in this day and age that says a lot 😉 I really appreciate the authenticity I feel, your interesting and useful take aways (just started my website/blog so I dug into your advice posts related). Thank you for sharing great tips and in your true voice.

    Keep kicking ass lady!

    x

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