Let’s Chat : Creative Ruts

Make something art print by Wit & Whistle
(image/print by Wit & Whistle)

This week was full of personal highs and lows, and as per usual, of really amazing projects in my Pinterest feed. Time and time again I’m blown away by the creativity of others and how endless inspiration is at our disposal everyday. But with that also comes comparison and the deep desire to do better. But what do you do when you’re in a creative rut?

It may not come across this way in my posts, but I go through creative ruts quite a bit. In fact, I’m even in one now (yahoo!). The only thing that I’ve found to help is to take a step away from the computer and make something. Whatever it is, even if it sucks, making something with my hands always helps me clear my mind. It helps me start at a place where I feel completely lost and disconnected from what I love and end up (hopefully) in a semi-decent place. It doesn’t happen overnight or after one project, but eventually I’m able to get back into the swing of things and make things I’m actually happy with.

I’d love to hear about your creative process! What do you do to get out of a funk? If all else fails, what’s your go-to cocktail?


On a lighter note, here are a few links to keep you inspired (and hopefully rut free) over the long weekend:

– If you don’t have coasters in your home, or even if you do, you need to make these pronto!

– Resin has been on my must-try list for a while now. After seeing this project, I’m 100% sold.

– Get in my ears, adorable diy earrings.

– Anyone have any spare beakers? I need to make these candles asap.

– You can really do some amazing things with clay.

– Don’t forget! Hello Lidy and I are hosting a flower crown workshop at West Elm in LA (buy your tickets here).



  • Thank you for the super sweet share, Rachel! So honored to be included in this list of amazing DIYs! :D

    Creative ruts are the worst, but you’re absolutely right—taking a break from pressure is the best way to get through them. I try to take walks as often as possible, and find that as soon as I’m actively NOT thinking about work, that’s when my brain opens up and starts generating ideas again. I also find it helpful to keep a notebook full of ideas that I do have; that way, when I hit a rut, I can look through my list and try to make something or be inspired by something from there.

    • Girl you deserve it! That project is amazing :)

      Isn’t it funny how creativity strikes? I feel like I’m always doing the most random things when I think of project ideas. I love the idea of having an ongoing list to go back to. I need to get in the habit of writing everything down, even if it seems like a bad idea at the time.

  • Laurel (A Bubbly Life)

    I loved those coasters!

    When I get in a rut, I look in my diy notebooks, I have lists of ideas that I never have time to do. I pick one I have not done yet and try that. If all those seem boring, I think about the projects I should have for months ahead (say a party, holiday etc) and brainstorm for that. My favorite inspiration moments are the spontaneous ones which I think why being in a rut is so hard.

    • Oh me too! Marlene totally nailed that project!

      LOVE the idea of thinking about projects for future events rather than what’s going on right now. Sometimes I narrow in on what’s going on the present verses long term ideas. I totally agree with you about those spontaneous inspiration moments; they’re so glorious when they happen and completely frustrating when they don’t!

  • You pretty much described how I feel almost on a daily basis. It definitely makes it harder sometimes seeing all the amazing creativity out there and thinking man I wish I thought of that! Which is why stepping away usually helps. Honestly, shopping helps me… window shopping that is! Just going around looking at stuff will usually spark something. I’ve also gotten in the habit of always having pen and paper on me so that I can write down any thought that could remotely become something later. The last second is also usually my most creative moment.. lol!

    • Right there with you Amy! I always wonder how I would interact with Pinterest if I wasn’t a blogger :)

      You are so right about shopping! It’s so fun going around and looking at blank materials and wondering how you could piece it together or make it even better. My favorite is discovering a new tool or supply that I’ve not seen before. That tends to open a large list of ideas for me. I need to get better at carrying a notebook and pen– so many of you have said that’s the way to do it!

  • You are so right. There can be so much inspiration online but sometimes looking at it for too long can start to be so overwhelming! I find myself getting distracted by the computer so often (including right now…) but it really helps me to close it, grab a notebook and start thinking and writing, taking visual cues from my environment! I hope you find all kinds of inspiration going into the weekend!

    • Absolutely! It’s so easy to go from completely inspired to distracted then to overwhelmed when browsing for inspiration solely on the internet. Seems like the best way to approach inspiration is to just change your environment and shift your mind. Your comment reminds me of this quote (that I absolutely love!): http://www.pinterest.com/pin/2111131048804422/

      • Ooh that quote is so good! Pinning it right now :)

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  • Melissa

    Love this post. I get pumped about a few of my tiny projects and then find myself all mopey after an hour on Pinterest. When I’m in a bit of a rut I totally have to step away completely. This past week I was in a mood and this morning photographed a recipe and wood DIY project before 11am so it seems to come in waves, ya know? A notepad with a little City and Colour is also one of my go-to cures. ;)

    • Yay, so glad you liked it Melissa! I’m so impressed you had not one, but TWO projects done before 11am. That’s such a rarity for me. I completely understand what you mean about being excited about your own work until you see others. Comparison is the thief of joy, right? Just know that your work is AWESOME :)

  • HelloLidy

    Love the honesty! Yes, I think we can say we’ve all been there. And it sucks. Sometimes, being on Pinterest or looking through all my favorite blogs (A Beautiful Mess being one of them), can bring about information overload. My head feels like it’s going to literally explode because I’m waiting for inspiration and ideas to jump off a page. And sometimes it just doesn’t happen. For me, I’ve had to completely switch gears and get away from my computer. Go outside and live a little. Sit in the sun. Play with my kids. Do a load of laundry. Something to let that pocket of my brain rest for a bit. I think ruts can be from over thinking and trying too hard. Like exercise, if we work out the same group of muscles everyday, they get burned out and injured. That’s how I look at it. We need a break! And then when you’ve actually rested, your inspiration and ideas find you again. Don’t be discouraged friend, you are amazing and all you do is amazing! You live in an fabulous city, walk around some of those cute, steep streets ;) Your ideas will find you. Don’t forget to bring a notepad and pencil when they do ;)


    • Thank you so much friend! It’s so funny to think of creativity as a muscle that needs exercised, but you’re absolutely right. I feel like when I don’t create for a while that I have to force myself to get back into it, just like I do with running. Inspiration comes from the strangest places (even doing laundry!). Seems that I really need to pick up a notebook after reading all of these helpful comments :)

  • Love this post. I often feel this way with blogging and writing and even just living lol. My problem is often buying a ton of craft supplies for these dream projects and then somehow feeling uninspired to see it through and actually making all of them! Pinterest can make it worse sometimes because all the projects look perfect and I feel like I can’t possibly accomplish it that well, so why bother doing anything other than reading blogs about what other people did and watching tv <3 Nice to hear that there are so many other people feeling like that too!

    • rachelmaesmith@gmail.com

      Oh absolutely Lauren, you are not alone here! I’ve definitely had those days where I feel overwhelmed to do anything but relax and shut my brain off. Sometimes you can’t force it, other times you just have to work through it. I think it’s all about a balance and taking it a bit easy on yourself. Trust me, nobody’s projects are perfect although they may seem that way. I’ve done a number of things that just happen to photograph well, despite all their bumps and imperfections. Here’s hoping you find your inspiration soon!

  • A Charming Project

    Thank you so much for this post. I was feeling so full of self-doubt yesterday. I finally saved up money for a dslr camera on ebay, and it got lost. Someone, not me, signed for it never to be heard from again – stuck with a camera phone for who knows how long. I try not to compare my craft pictures and blogs to others but it’s so hard not to sometimes. So thank you for making me feel like I’m not the only one that can get stuck in a rut. You inspired me to make a craft just for me, with no pressure to take a photo of it. It’s just mine, and it made me feel so much better. Thanks again. Hope to see you at WestElm!

    • You are absolutely not alone! And UGH! I can’t believe that happened to your camera. I’m so sorry to hear about that; I hope everything resolves in your favor!

      You are so sweet and completely made my day saying that I inspire you. really, it means a lot! Sometimes it feels so damn good to make for yourself without photographing every step, doesn’t it?! Regardless, I think you’re doing great things with your blog (love those geometric wood earring!). Keep it up girl!

      And YES! Would love to have you at the event!

  • Oh man can I ever relate. This was me last April as per the post I tweeted you. It felt like nothing I made or did was enough. So I did a very strange thing and I stopped blogging for almost a month. I caught up on non-computer life. Chores. Time with my kids. Just unplugged. And it was helpful in the sense that it gave me a perspective not only on my creativity but as to how blog / Pinterest culture overall can wear us down b/c all we see around us are post after post being churned out and you feel like if you don’t keep up you’ll be left behind. And it took me a long time realize that my blog isn’t about that. It’s for me.To share my story when I want to write and share it.

    So now I post less but I try to post better quality. And because of that I feel a thousand times less pressure to keep up and am vastly happier with my content because of it. I actually find myself on Pinterest less these days, mainly b/c as inspiring as it all is, as a blogger it gives me preconceived notions of what’s trendy or pinnable that I could make. Then instead of pushing myself to do something different and create my own path, I wind up falling back on what I think I “should” do vs what I just want/need to do for our home. But I could write a novel on that so I’ll stop. :)

  • Ha that print cracks me up, but it’s so true! The best way to create something you’re proud of is to just keep making stuff. I probably make 10 embarrassingly hideous DIYs for every pretty one.

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