How to Break Out of a Creative Rut: 4 Strategies to Reconnect with God, Find Your Inspiration, and Do Your Best Work Ever
Have you felt like you’re stuck in a creative rut? You’re not alone. The isolation, stress, and survival mode of the last year have many of us feeling uninspired. So how do we get that creative spark back?
Creativity is an essential part of almost everything we do in our career, business, or ministry. Creative ideas turn into new products in our business. Creative problem solving makes us more capable leaders. Creative communication engages teams, volunteers, and customers.
But lately, it seems that the demand for our creativity is like a hungry, insatiable beast that is never satisfied (stop and think about that). Often, behind that is the unhealthy obsession with more, which is rooted in a fear of not enough.
- Entrepreneurs feel pressure to be on all platforms to attract more customers. (Instagram alone has posts, stories, reels, ads, and IGTV.)
- Career professionals feel pressure to start side hustles to earn more money.
- Under pressure for more people, ministry leaders are spread thin across platforms to attract and engage multiple demographics.
I am not against growth. Healthy things grow. But when we strive to make it happen on our own out of fear that God will not provide, we disconnect from the vine that produces lasting fruit in our career, business, or ministry. In this neverending demand for new ideas, is it any wonder we feel exhausted and creatively tapped out?
I think it’s time that we reclaim our God-given creativity as holy and sacred ground. The goal is not to produce more creative work, because in today’s content-driven culture there will never be “enough,” but to do our very best, most authentic, most God-breathed work. This is true whether we’re a musician, or a manager, or a nurse.
Here are some ways we can reclaim the sacred space of our creativity.
Narrow Your Focus
Recently I felt led to step away from preaching for a time. It was a hard decision because I love preaching. After I made the decision, I cried. But almost immediately, something unexpected happened. I suddenly felt more creative. A month later, I stepped away from Instagram. More creativity flowed out of me.
It reminded me of when I was a kid, and we would hold a magnifying glass under the sun and focus on one area of wood. After about a minute, the wood would start to smoke and then catch fire. That’s the power of focus. As I began to do fewer things creatively, I was able to produce better quality work.
As Christians, we have access to infinite creative ideas because we have access to the Creator of all things. But we are also finite beings with only so much time, energy, and mental capacity in any given day. Reclaiming the sacred creative space may require that we put some things down for a season, even (and perhaps more significantly) things we love to do or are afraid to give up. This pruning shifts our focus back to God and reminds us of our dependence on Him as our Provider. When we do this, we can access the infinite source of ideas and are free to focus on our best work.
Engage Your Senses
Have you ever sat in front of a blank computer screen, out of ideas, wondering if your most creative work is behind you? We’ve all been there. Creativity is like a body of water. It needs freshwater flowing in (that’s the inspiration) and water flowing out (that’s releasing our ideas into the world). We need this inflow and outflow to do our best work.
Sometimes a creative rut is a sign that our worlds have become too confined. Surfing, scrolling, and binge-watching can seem like inspiration, but it’s a flat experience. To be deeply inspired, we need sensory experiences that engage smell, sound, taste, touch, and visual. When we step away from our screens and get out into the world, we realize that creative ideas are inexhaustible. Inspiration is everywhere: books, photography, music, food, interior design, nature, architecture, poetry, art, theater, fashion, graphic design, arts and crafts.
Inspiration is easy and accessible. Go to a museum, take a photo walk, browse through a fashion magazine, go for a hike. I lived near a Home Goods store for years, and I would wander the aisles taking in the colors and textures when I felt out of ideas. Do whatever works for you. Let your mind rest, wander, dream, explore.
Revisit Old Work
Recently I went through a couple of years of my free coaching email newsletters and reposted some of our most popular topics on the blog. I had forgotten about a lot of the topics I had written. Some of them made me cringe at sentence structure, typos, and lack of clarity. Others made me think, “Whoa… Did I write that? That’s pretty good!”
The point is not that I feel like I am the most gifted writer. Any creative person knows how fickle those moments can be. One moment we’re a brilliant genius who is a gift to all humanity, and the next, we feel like a talentless hack.
Revisiting old work is like reviewing a list of answered prayers. Because ultimately, our best work is a form of answered prayer. It is the power of God at work in us and through us doing what we cannot do without Him. The point is that when we keep showing up, the Holy Spirit meets us there. And the Holy Spirit isn’t fickle. Revisiting old work reminds us, just as reviewing answered prayers reminds us, that God is faithful. He provided creative ideas in the past, and He will do so again. Our job is to keep showing up to the work.
Make (Quiet) Time
I’ve discovered that my creativity and my quiet time go hand in hand. I am most creative when I am disciplined about spending time with God in prayer and scripture each day. When I don’t, I’m not as creative (and I’m also crankier, more anxious, and generally less fun to be around - just ask my husband).
Simon Bull said, “You can’t bring God into your creative process. God is your creative process.” The more connected we are to the Creator of all things, the more connected we are to the source of our most brilliant ideas, our most effective strategies, and our best problem-solving skills. We can fake it for a while by pulling ideas from other people and places. But we miss out on the most authentic ideas that God has for us according to His plans and purpose for our life.
Creativity in any form is like the rudder of a ship. The words we speak, the ideas we implement, the work we share: all of this moves our life in a specific direction. We see new doors open up, new connections made, fresh revelation of our purpose revealed. When we are creative out of obedience to God's plan instead of our own, we see more abundant, longer-lasting fruit.
Actions This Week
If you’re in a creative rut in your business, career, or ministry (or any area of your life), here are a few action steps you can take this week to get reinspired:
- Boundaries: Pray and ask God if there’s anything you need to put down for a season. (Warning, it may be something you love to do, but it will be worth it.)
- Inspiration: Make a date this week to find inspiration that engages multiple senses. It can be as simple as baking bread or spending a weekend in nature.
- Revisit: Revisit old work or make a list of answered prayers. What speaks to you? What can you build on? What no longer resonates, and what is God speaking to you now?
- Quiet Time: If your daily quiet time with God has been inconsistent (or non-existent), challenge yourself to set aside time every day for prayer and time in the Word this week.
- The Courageous Creative by Jenny Randle
- Called to Create by Jordan Raynor
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Dawn Sadler is a Christian Productivity Coach that helps business owners, career professionals and ministry leaders achieve the goals that matter most. Schedule a free, 15-minute Clarity Call to learn more. Book a call.
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