How to Break Out of a Creative Rut

Any artist or musician can fall victim to feeling like they’re stuck in a creative rut. In fact, even commercially successful musicians still struggle with this feeling from time to time. Therein lies the first step to breaking out of your own creative rut – understanding that you’re not alone. It’s a shared feeling for many in the creative professions. And the good news is that there are many ways to break out of this rut and start creating again.

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Swimming in Unfamiliar Waters

One of the biggest reasons musicians get stuck in creative ruts is because they fall into familiar routines that take the unpredictability out of the equation. The easiest way to break out of this feeling is by diving into deep and unfamiliar waters. For instance, if you’ve never practiced teaching music before, now would be the perfect time to do so, as demands for online teachers are increasing in the creative professions, especially in the current situation. Teaching others your craft is also an effective way of stepping out of your shoes and empathizing with other musicians.

As a vocalist, it will also benefit you to wade in the unfamiliar waters of new skills and new tools that can raise your competence as a performer. If you’ve always been curious about vocal effects pedals, for instance, there’s no better time than a creative rut to start experimenting. Much like guitar pedals, vocal pedals will allow you to apply various effects to the sound of your voice, including reverb, distortion, phasing, and even pitch correction. Developing the skills needed to effectively use these analog and digital vocal tools can be a fun challenge for any type of singer. It can also open you up to creating and performing in a variety of unfamiliar genres, which itself can be a great way to challenge your creative rut.

Change Your Environment

Given the current global health crisis, simply going out and exploring the world would be inadvisable, to say the least. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t adjust and change your current surroundings. Work on redecorating your creative spaces. Clean and reorganize your home recording studio. Get indoor plants to introduce positive prompts to your immediate surroundings. Change the lighting or even put up positive messages to yourself. It may seem simple, but even one or two positive changes to your environment can have a large impact on how you feel about creating again.

Mind Mapping

The practice of mind mapping helps break down a large problem into much more manageable parts. Here’s how to do it. Take a blank piece of paper and have a pen or pencil ready. At the center of your ‘idea sheet,’ write down the problem at hand, which in this case is the creative rut in which you’re currently stuck. Around this central problem or idea, write down what you think you need to solve this main problem. And then, from those individual ideas around the central issue, write down what you need to address each of those challenges. Keep going until you arrive at actionable solutions to the individual problems that together address the main problem. Apart from breaking out of a rut, you may also find that mind mapping is a useful tool for writing new songs and developing similar ideas.

These are just some of the most effective ways to break free from your creative rut. However stuck you’re feeling right now, it’s important not to get discouraged. Remember that you don’t have to be stuck forever. Follow the above-mentioned steps and you’ll find yourself climbing out of that rut soon enough. 

Cathy Bridges

Cathy Bridges is a vocal coach, yoga instructor, and blogger with an equal passion for traditional Broadway musicals and experimental vocalists from different genres. When she’s not reading Playbill or teaching yoga, she spends her time combing through streaming sites for some of the most promising new vocal talents on the web.