How to Solve Creative Ruts with Eggplant Parmesan

Hello and welcome to my eggplant parmesan.


I consider myself to be a decently creative person. My job is creative, my hobbies are creative, and when I'm not doing those things I'm finding inspiration for more creative work. My Sun is creativity and I am a mere planet revolving around depending on it for the fruition of my life. (I know, so dramatic, right?) 

So what happens when I'm in a creative rut? When ideas run empty and dry like Arizona weather? 

My world basically comes to a stand still. I'm not scheduling shoots because I can't think of any looks, I'm not editing shoots already taken because I can't seem to bring out the right colors or nail the perfect balance of highlights and shadows, and I'm struggling to create content or creatively problem solve for the brand I manage thus leaving me struggling to do my job.

Guess what? Yep. You guessed it. I'm in one of those ruts at this VERY moment. 

Maybe you are too, and that's reason number one why I've chosen to write this very piece. You don't have to be a photographer or brand manager like me to find yourself in a creative rut. You could be an artist, a real estate agent, or a mathematician. Creativity pops up in everyones life and if it doesn't it should. Mixing creativity with areas that aren't normally known for being creative is how life-changing things are created! (but that's a rant for another day)

So here I am, sitting at my desk, like I have been all day, week, and past few weeks. I stare, I drink coffee and nothing, no light bulbs. No "Aha!" moments. Just hours of me racking a somehow empty yet so full brain, jumping from problem to problem like frogs on lily pads. 

Here's the problem with that. Ideas aren't for you to just have. Ideas are earned. 

The rest of this piece is inspired by one of my favorite books, "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" by Elizabeth Gilbert. I encourage you to follow the link and buy this book. It changed how I think about creativity in such a positive way. (Not sponsored, just obsessed and I always share things I love.)

Think of ideas as entities, living breathing beings like you and I (stay with me here.) All they want is to be loved, cared for, and followed through with. You think they're going to pick any old lad to attach to? Hell no! They're going to take their time, picking only those that they feel are capable of sticking with them and seeing them through to the end.

How do you become that person?

First, stop thinking you deserve it just because you exist or because you had an Instagram post that got 300 likes once, or even because you published a New York Times Best Seller. 

Work for it. Are you a writer that has been sitting around for days due to writers block? Okay. I get it, egos get bruised and time ticks ever so loudly, but don't just sit there. Ideas are going to give you one look as you sit there banging your hand to your head crying to Florence and the Machine and go right on by.

Instead, show the ideas that you're at least trying. Take a hike, try painting, rent a camera and go shoot regardless of if you have any idea how. Try cooking a new recipe even though you burn cereal. What I'm getting at is, continue to create! Do SOMETHING. ANYTHING. 

Ideas will see this and maybe all of a sudden you get inspired by the way your over-cooked eggplant parmesan looks, or by a person you met in line at the grocery store getting the ingredients. The idea saw your efforts and decided to take a chance on you! SCORE, look at you now!

Surprise (kind of), this blog is my weird looking eggplant parmesan. Reason number two for writing this piece was to try and collect my thoughts and just CREATE. I started this not really sure where it was going to lead, but I knew I needed to try something.

If that's still not working, which is possible depending on how deep the rut is, try reading. Go to a bookstore and spend as much time as you can looking through books. Get out of your genre comfort zone, or pick a self-help book if those work for you. Personally, I try to continually stay as educated as I can since I work for myself, so I often choose books to learn more about the business I am in and hope to find something I did not know before. Not only does it get me out of my own head for a little bit, but it shows ideas that I'm not giving up!

All of this might sound like some weird "hippie-dippie mumbo-jumbo" but whether it's real or not, if it works and helps people to create, does it really matter? You may try this method thinking of it as a silly metaphor or maybe you start leaving food and water outside of your door in bowls labeled "Mr. Idea," and to be honest I don't care as long as whoever is reading this finds even an inkling of inspiration.

There's thousands of ways to create and summon ideas. Find something that works for you, but whatever you decide, DO SOMETHING. Also, sorry if now you're craving eggplant parmesan, I hope yours doesn't turn out weird.