Inside: If you’ve hit a creative slump that seems unsurmountable, don’t give up. Here are some ways to get your creative juices flowing again.  

For some people, creativity is like a Six Flags wooden roller coaster ride. One day, they’re on a roll and on top of the world. Clickety-clack.

But when the ride ends, all their inspiration takes a nosedive. Or worse, they crash and burn out, dreading the work that they once loved. 

Today’s hustle culture says the solution is to stay up later and grind harder. Or plan out every 5-minute interval of your day like Elon Musk.

But our ideas don’t increase proportionally to how hard we push ourselves—quite the opposite. If you’re going through a creative slump, treating your creative side with care will help you regain inspiration. Here’s how.

What Exactly is Creativity?

According to Britannica.com, creativity is “the ability to make or otherwise bring into existence something new, whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form.” 

Creativity is often equated with “artsy” people. But engineers, entrepreneurs, and chefs also use inventiveness and imagination. Even middle managers can be resourceful and original in their approach to work (gasp!).

Creativity is a God-given talent that we can steward and multiply. We all have the potential for creativity, some more than others.

The term “creative” doesn’t only describe an identity, it refers to an innovative mindset or way of thinking. Like a muscle, creativity is developed with practice and persistence. 

What is a Creative Slump?

Whether you create for a living or a hobby, you know firsthand that inspiration comes and goes. A creative slump (or creative rut) describes that period where we feel stuck in the creative process. We might lack ideas, have trouble concentrating, lose passion for our craft, or doubt our abilities—and identity. 

This rut might last for a few days to a few years. But as frustrating as it is, there’s a season for everything, including our creativity. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (NIV). 

The creative slump is the winter season, where our creativity lies dormant and might even appear dead. The good news is that new ideas are often growing below the surface. What you do in the meantime can nurture your creativity until the spring season arrives.

What to Do When You Hit a Creative Slump (Or Burnout)

1. Accept the season that you’re in. 

Many of us fight against our current season of life, which is often determined by other commitments and circumstances. Your current priority might be a new baby, a grueling day job, or a chronic illness. That’s okay.

We might grieve our diminished (or non-existent) creativity during this period. But we can either accept and learn from that season we’re in—or rail against it. 

Ask God what He wants to teach you during this season and how He wants to grow you. Let go of the expectation that you’ll be equally creative in every season. You may not be able to “have it all” right now, but you can prioritize what you do have.

2. Allow your creativity to lie fallow for a while.

In Leviticus 25:3-4, we read about the concept of a rest for the land. “For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.” 

Modern agriculture shows that when land is allowed to lay fallow, the nutrients in the soil replenish, and the crops increase the following year.

We’re not required to take every seventh year off (although wouldn’t that be nice!). Still, there’s wisdom in God’s pattern of work and rest.

We can’t expect ourselves to be productive day in and day out, year after year without a break. Consider if it’s time to allow your creativity to lie fallow and regenerate. 

RELATED: How You Can Use Creative Rest to Restore Your Creativity

3. Cut down on one external source of stress.

Studies show that high stress reduces our creativity. Getting into a creative headspace is difficult when managing an impossible to-do list, dealing with multiple crises, or fuming over a divisive conversation on X.

If you want to get your creativity back, look at your unrelated sources of stress. It might be time to drop a commitment to have more margin in your schedule. Or reconcile with the friend who offended you. Or hire someone to help train that crazy dog of yours who lunges to greet every other dog.

4. Deal with any internal causes of creative burnout.

Often, our stressors come from within. Do you feel burned out due to perfectionism or overwork? Is your inner critic louder than God’s voice? Are your standards higher than His standards? 

Whenever negative thoughts creep in, take a mental snapshot. Jot down the thoughts that first come to mind. Then take these thoughts to God. 

Ask Him to show you how to replace these beliefs with the truth. Only God can deliver us from these anti-creative states of mind.

5. Reexamine your goals. 

The size of your goals matters. According to James Clear, we experience the most motivation when working on tasks that are not too challenging or easy (The Goldilocks Rule). In other words, we should ensure our projects are of “just manageable difficulty.”

Determine if your goals are too big or too small (or the wrong ones altogether).

Too ambitious of a goal will be daunting and discourage us. Too easy of a goal will leave us bored and unchallenged. The wrong goal will make us feel like Sisyphus perpetually rolling a boulder up a hill. 

6. Measure your progress visually.

Another way of increasing motivation is measuring your progress. Seeing our small wins visually over time is beneficial especially when the end goal is far off.

Teresa Amabile writes about the power of small wins: “Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.”

So you might use Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break the Chain” method by putting an X on a calendar for every day that you create. Drop a marble in a jar for the progress you make. Or gamify your life using a to-do list RPG to meet your goals.

7. Seek inspiration to jumpstart your creativity.

Explore other people’s work to stir up your creative juices. Read authors that you enjoy. Take a related class. Collaborate with other people. Even looking back at your old work can inspire your creativity.

Switching things up can also help you get out of a creative rut. Get out of your daily routine. Change the location where you work once in a while. Pretend you’re a photographer for a day and get a new perspective.

8. Revamp your workspace (or not).

If your workspace is not conducive to imagination and innovation, take the time to spruce it up. Put up objects that inspire you. Update that faded 5-year-old family photo. And get rid of all that free office supply swag cluttering up your desktop.

But here’s the caveat. This tip depends on your personality. Studies show that some people are more creative in a messy area.

If you flourish in “organized chaos,” you know you don’t need a bare Instagram-worthy minimalist workspace to do your best work. In this case, be at peace with your work area as it is.

9. Create for an audience of One. 

Who do you have in mind when you create? In today’s world of social media, it’s easy to lose sight of who we’re creating for.

Instead of seeking God’s approval, we look to others for that approval. And we use other people’s work as the standard by which we measure ourselves.

Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” 

So create first with God in mind. Converse with Him throughout the process. Offer your work to God and ask Him to make it fruitful.

10. Break your own self-imposed rules. 

We often develop systems to be more efficient and productive. You may have developed formulas for your creative projects over time. If you’ve honed your systems, you’ve probably come to rely on them for success.

The problem is that these formulas may constrain our creativity and cause us to fall into a rut. Consider any self-imposed rules you’ve developed. Don’t be afraid to break them to be more innovative and less formulaic.

11. Turn off your judging side.

Fear of imperfection is another reason people hit a wall. Many creative people are also perfectionists, which can prevent them from starting—or finishing—a project. Perfectionism can also sap the joy out of the whole process, leading to creative burnout. 

Painter Eugène Delacroix once said, “Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot achieve it in anything.”

So give yourself the freedom to brainstorm and produce without judging yourself. Create freely without editing or fixing, at least for the time being. Aim for “good enough” instead of “perfect.” 

12. Remove some time pressure.

Creativity takes time and reflection. Studies have shown that time pressure hurts our creativity. Too much emphasis on productivity might kill our creativity outright. 

So make the journey itself your focus, rather than the outcome. Learn to enjoy the process more than the achievement. 

For example, if you’re a writer like me, set a goal of writing for X hours per day, rather than X number of words. Reward yourself for the effort, not the result—at least until you get out of your creative rut.

13. Set a time limit for your work. 

You’ve heard it said before. “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

The danger is that if we don’t believe what we do is work, we’ll never see the need to rest. No matter how much we enjoy our work, we must stop to recharge. 

It isn’t easy to put a time limit on ourselves when we’re on a roll. But exercising this kind of self-control will help prevent creative burnout in the first place. It protects our joy and passion, leaving us with creativity for the next day. 

The Bottom Line

So the next time you’re hangry for a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, it might be a sign to take a break. Instead of pushing harder, slow down.

Treat your creativity with gentleness—and avoid the extreme highs and lows of the creative roller coaster altogether.

Recap: What to Do When You Hit a Creative Slump (Or Burnout)

1. Accept the season that you’re in. 

2. Allow your creativity to lie fallow for a while.

3. Cut down on one external source of stress.

4. Deal with any internal causes of creative burnout.

5. Reexamine your goals. 

6. Measure your progress visually.

7. Seek inspiration to jumpstart your creativity.

8. Revamp your workspace (or not).

9. Create for an audience of One.

10. Break your own self-imposed rules. 

11. Turn off your judging side.

12. Remove some time pressure.

13. Set a time limit for your work. 

Are you in a creative rut or burnout? What’s the next thing you need to do?

For more on this topic:

How You Can Use Creative Rest to Restore Your Creativity

9 Ways to Deal With a Christian Midlife Crisis (or Slump)

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About the Author

Helen Rees

I am a Christian, wife, stepmom, psychiatric nurse, and writer. I write about research-backed ways to navigate the challenges of fast-paced modern life while growing in your Christian faith.

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