Advice: How to Lift Yourself Out of a Creative Rut

Captain Awkard's logo as patron saint of break-ups... and creatives in a jam.
Captain Awkard's logo as patron saint of break-ups … and creatives in a jam.

LOS ANGELES — As an artist, I understand that we all experience creative ruts. I recently looked at the book trailer for a new book that says we need to embrace those ruts. But how do we get out of them? Sure, they come along, and it’s nice to know intellectually why they’re useful for us, but sometimes we need to just get the creative engine revving.

Popular advice blog Captain Awkward, which I’ve been following for a while now, has some advice for creatives out there. The blog is put together by Jennifer Peepas, a screenwriter and filmmaker in Chicago who offers the following caveat, “You should probably not be taking life advice from a woman whose plan for paying back $100K in grad school debt is ‘be an indie filmmaker.'” But with rising student loans making it difficult for artists to pursue their life dreams, Captain Awkward’s advice comes from real life experience.

A recent post, titled “Doing what you’re good at isn’t the same as doing what you love” caught my eye and seems relevant for many artists I know. “Lost and Confused” wrote in about graduating with a degree in the hard sciences but seems to have zero interest in his/her subject matter now. Here’s what Captain Awkward blogger Commander Logic had to say about that:

What I’m saying here is that you don’t know what will happen, you don’t know your purpose, and that’s okay. You don’t need an ultimate purpose, which is kind of an end-of-life-what’s-it-all-mean sort of thing. You need a goal.

Commander Logic goes on to recommend five steps for getting out of a creative rut, ending with:

4 – At the end of your holiday (NOT BEFORE) begin thinking about what would make you happy as a career. Nothing says “Chosen One” quite like a dragon on your shoulder.

5 – Get a job, not necessarily related to your career, so that you can support yourself while you figure things out/follow your dream.

It’s good advice for creatives in a rut, especially as very few artists are pushed to do art. They’re pushed to do other things, which they’re good at, only to realize they don’t necessarily love it.

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