Getting Out of a Creative Rut: Tips from Dr. Mac Powell

Tammy Campbell
Jun 5 · 3 min read

Getting stuck in a creative rut can cause a seemingly insurmountable level of pressure and stress. Whether it’s writer’s block, stage fright, or just low energy levels, getting out of a creative rut takes a bit of skill, and a heck of a lot of patience. Try these suggestions from Dr. Mac Powell to help dislodge the block, restore your energy flow, and get back to your craft.

1. Walk Away. That’s right, leave your creative work on your desk, computer, wherever, and just walk away from it. Leaving your stress in the office, studio, or creative den allows you to gain perspective on how you feel and might even give insight into what is causing your stress. Also, walking away and leaving your work behind allows you to refocus your energy. For creative types who work on a computer, closing a document and spending time on Facebook doesn’t count. Instead, try a change of scenery or get some fresh air. James Patterson likes to play nine holes of golf in the middle of his day just to get away, clear his mind, and return fresh to his ideas. I find getting away tells you everything you need to know about what you’re working on. If you’re not excited to get back to it…you need to rethink your idea or take even more time to explore how to breathe passion into your work.

2. Indulge in the Arts. Being stuck in a creative rut can be specific to your art, but it doesn’t mean you need to stop doing all creative work. Step away from what you’re working on and indulge in something beautiful but unrelated to your creative channel. For example, novelists might watch a movie, stage performers might attend an art gallery they haven’t visited in some time, poets might listen to music, painters could pick up that book they’ve been meaning to read. When I’m writing a book, I steep myself in the genre or subject. I try to read everything that my colleagues have written and understand what works and what doesn’t work in the genre — but just as often, I find myself watching a rerun of Seinfeld or Frasier. Switch gears and allow yourself to be entertained.

3. Exercise. Nothing clears the mind better than physical exertion. A mentor of mine used to do hot yoga to, “clear the monkey mind,” as he liked to say. If you’re trying to get out of a creative rut, consider taking an exercise class or doing a gym routine that’s completely different from what you normally do. A hike through a park can help shatter your creative blockage, and taking time to enjoy nature and the peace and quiet might be all you need to get out of your creative rut.

4. Old fashioned communication. Remember the first suggestion about walking away? Why not call up a good friend or a relative and go for a coffee in the middle of the day? Or, if it’s later, how about dinner and a movie? Talking things through with someone you trust and love can help; stepping out of the routine and getting into a space of positivity and enjoyment will help even more.

5. Meditate. Incorporating meditation into your routine is crucial for getting out of a creative rut. By calming your mind and stilling your thoughts, you separate your energetic flow from the stresses and stressors that may have caused the block. Using meditation to flush out negativity and anxiety can help get energy and creativity flowing again.

Stepping away from your environment allows you to quarantine the negative energy and stress that may have caused the creative rut. Tackling something new — indulging as the entertained instead of entertainer, exercising, spending time with someone you love, and meditating — invites positive energy to flush out any lingering negative thoughts and feelings. In so doing, you can return to your creative endeavors reinvigorated and ready to share the passion of your work.

About Dr. Mac Powell:

Dr. Powell is a professional writer and therapist who has spoken around the world on self-improvement and peak performance. Learn more about him and his work at https://www.drmacpowell.com/

Tammy Campbell

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Tammy Campbell is a freelance journalist, entrepreneur, avid blogger, and writing consultant. For the last decade, Mrs. Campbell has built her repertoire as an