How to get out of a creative rut, aka my 2 minutes of glory…

Last week Mark Lipinski contacted me and asked if I would be willing to do a 2-minute segment on his radio show, Creative Mojo.  He wanted me to talk about how I get out of a creative rut.  Me?  Why me?  And, what’s all this talk about a creative rut?  I have to admit that I felt like I didn’t have much to contribute when he first asked me, and then the more I thought about it, some things that perhaps I do differently from others probably helps me stay out of a creative rut.  The problem is… how do you explain it all in 2 minutes?

First off, let me explain that I was raised a poor kid.  We didn’t have much, so we had to be creative in making up our own fun.  Lack of things forces you to use your imagination to creatively come up with a solution for that which you lack.  For example, I was the youngest of 5 kids in my house.  We seemed to keep everything, but sometimes that glue would dry out.  Mom would take flour and mix some water in it to make glue for us to use.  It might have been different if we’d had the money to just buy more glue, but we didn’t.  So, how many filthy rich people do you consider to be creative?

I was fortunate to be raised with a sense of humor.  My dad was the oldest of 15 kids.  When the masses of us get together, there is a ton of  jokes, tricks played on others, and laughter.  We can act very childish, but it’s good-natured and cheap fun.

Also, remember that I’ve had some of the strangest experiences in my lifetime.  Take, for example, the $&!# on top of the chest of drawers story.  You have to keep a sense of humor through all these experiences, or you will make yourself crazy.  Several years ago, I lost my mother; my dog, who was also my best friend; my daughter’s Godmother and left my job only to not get another when we moved that year.  Actually, all that had happened in the span of about 6 months.  I had 6 eye surgeries in 18 months (it’s been almost 7 months now since my last eye surgery).   On top of all this, I have gotten some pretty scary migraines over the years.

Through my grieving and health experiences I have had a lot of time to think, and when you think too much, it can make you crazy as well.  Or, your mind will go into an altered state to try to turn your focus into a healing direction.  Sometimes this is as basic as getting in touch with your inner child (yes, I know… cliche… and another is on its way).  You’ve heard the saying, “when one door closes another opens”?  Well, I’d like to believe that is what happened to me.  There were a lot of signs that it was time for a new direction in my life.  Looking back, I’m glad my life turned out the way it did.  I’m happier now and more at peace with myself and life than I have ever been.  And, I’m okay with acting like a kid now, too!

THAT is what I was thinking of today when I tried to explain how to get out of a creative rut.  For me, the mundane routine of day-to-day life can get me into a rut.  I had a lot of stress in my life in the last 10 years, stress that was making my body revolt and basically kidnapped my spirit when I lost so many things I felt were important in my life.    My routine and my spirit were broken, so my creative mind took over.  You, too, can stimulate your creative mind, but in a healthier way.

When I was training to be a school teacher, I learned that I could best reach all my students by having them use as many of their senses as possible.  If they don’t “get it” one way, take them to an altered way of thinking through one of the senses that is not dominant in that child.  Have you ever noticed how your memory is better if your emotions are involved?  When we get so busy with our day to day lives, we tend to be cognitive instead of emotional.  Our rational side is that nasty little voice in our heads that tell us that we can’t do something, it’d be stupid, we’re not good enough.  But, when we focus on our senses (touch, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, and feeling) our emotions get aroused.  Think about all the social events where food is involved.  Do you remember any of those events?  What do you remember about the ambiance of the room?  What did you smell and taste?  Who was talking?  Do you remember what people said?  What were you feeling?

So, today I had 2 minutes to tell people to get in touch with their inner child, to play and explore things in a way that is not “routine” for them, to use their other senses.  If you’re an artist, your strong sense if most likely visual.  And, if you are in a rut, take a break from your visual cues.  Do something else for awhile.  Close your eyes and let your creative mind take you to new places using one or more of your other senses.  Finger paint with pudding.  Listen to music and dance.  Sleep. Dream.  Write down some ideas.  By the way, writing is also a tactile/touch sense.  Okay, so your cognitive mind is telling you that you are not capable of doing a good job.  So what?  Do it anyway and have fun.  Keep your sense of humor and go play!!!  You will feel like a child again, and it will feel wonderful!

creative adult


You can read more about Mark Lipinski and his show, Creative Mojo here.

And, you can listen to how I stumbled through 2 minutes, probably not making any sense at all, by listening to the Creative Mojo Podcasts.  Look for the one for Jan. 16th here.   It may not be up yet; I’m not sure how long it takes for them to post.   I’m at about the 25/30 minute mark (no pun intended).  But, really, you should listen to the whole thing.  He’s got some good stuff to listen to, especially while you’re quilting.  😉

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