Getting Unstuck from a Creative Rut


Recently, the subject of creativity has been coming up a lot for me. I had several emails last week from readers asking where I find inspiration for DIY projects and how I get unstuck from creative lulls.

For the most part, because it’s related to DIY projects mainly, I’ve been directing people to my Skillshare class, The How To on How-Tos, where I share four ways to find inspiration, get unstuck, and come up with creative solutions for DIY projects. But there is something new I’ve been doing more recently that I’ve found super helpful as well. So, I thought I would share it here…

Every so often, I jump in the car and just start driving, with no real destination. It may sound strange, but it’s really been helpful to me. *You can also bike around instead, if you prefer not to drive.

I’ve been enjoying exploring areas outside of my neighborhood to clear my head and/or find inspiration. Just seeing new things that I don’t typically look at or drive past day after day really helps to get the wheels turning. No pun intended. Do you ever do this?

It also has been a good exercise for me to try when I’m feeling flustered or annoyed about something.


So, here’s an example of how this whole random driving around thing has helped me with my creativity… 

The photos above are from a spot Sarah and I found, while driving around one day in Murray Hill. Which you may remember as the backdrop from this Read This post, for the second edition of The Handmade Marketplace. When we drove by, I immediately noticed (and loved) the blueish grey color of the corrugated wall and the green vines growing up over the graffiti.

We took some photos of me playing around with the vines and the combination of my pink nails and the green vines inspired the color scheme for a project I did shortly after these photos were taken…for donut ice cream sandwiches. Random, I know. But hey, if it works, it works.

***Quick note…The donut ice cream sandwiches were posted the day before the Read This post I’m referring to, but they were actually shot after. Just to make things as confusing as possible. Ha.

Where do you go when you need inspiration? Do you have any rituals, that you try, to snap yourself out of a creative rut? Like driving around in the car or going for a bike ride?

Photos by Sarah Eddy for Paper & Stitch

15 comments | Click here to reply

that’s so nuts how a simple drive inspired so many great things! i too find that just getting out of the house or changing scenery can make you feel a little less bogged down. Today I just didn’t feel like working so to shake that mood off I moved from my kitchen table to the library. Instant success! A lot got done 🙂

xo marlen
Messages on a Napkin


This is really interesting. I can definitely understand why you the thing with the driving around.
Somehow I feel like when being in new places all of a sudden the mind just wanders. Not even neccessarily about the place one’s at, if that makes sense.
Interesting post!


The best thing for me to do when I’m in a creative rut is to do something completely different. I find myself just taking a walk or a bike ride as well when I’m stuck 🙂

I have a post on my blog where I wrote about my “Mind Hacks” for when I’m needing a positivity or productivity boost… seems like we have some similar ideas.

Adia Sinead

When I need inspiration, I find walking around the library helps me tremendously. Is usually leads me to finding new books to read and I find myself transported to a whole new world.

Rose Hillen

I love this idea! I’ve found if I’m really in a long rut that I just take time off. I go on a day trip and do things like visit a lavender farm- something that I find so awesome but I never do. Basically the same thing but more long term

caroline [the diy nurse]

Thanks Lotts.


I’ve written a post on this too. I find getting outside and changing my routine massively helpful when I get stuck.

Love the photo’s for this post


Good point, Ale – having friends to turn to when you’re in a rut can be super helpful as well.


Creativity is a stream and sometimes you need to let it go to find it again… I like to see other Bloggers like yours, navigate in internet or just go to hobby shops or flea markets to find out something inspiring. Traveling is the best inspiration source ever. And creative friends are essentials 😉


Glad to hear that this hit home with you, Arielle.


I’ve definitely been needing this. so often, I find myself driving out of one rut just to find myself stuck in another and your idea to go explore and drive around is genius. thanks for sharing!

love, arielle
a simple elegance


Love the reversing the route tip, on taking walks. I really enjoy taking walks too, although it’s so hot here lately, it’s more difficult to do that. But during the fall and winter months, it’s one of my favorite things to do.


Love this idea! I find a change of scenery very helpful as well, and in fact I think most of my writing happens in my head when I’m walking around, rather than trying to “force it” in front of the computer. I take walks every day, and I’ve noticed even something as simple as reversing my “route” helps me look at things with fresh eyes and gets those brain gears turning.

Marlene @ Jade and Fern

Totally agree, Erin – the best ideas come easily (and often times fast, I’m noticing). And if your mind is free, as you said, I think those things are more likely to happen.

I’ve heard so many stories from famous musicians writing hugely successful hit songs in 20 minutes, or an hour, etc. And I like to think that’s true for other mediums as well. Trying to force something that’s not working, probably isn’t going to result in a masterpiece.


I find when I am putting to much pressure on myself to come up with an idea, I fall short. Usually my best ideas come to me when my mind is free. I’ve learned to walk away and allow myself a break- a nap, shopping, a meal. One of my favorite dresses I’ve made came to me when I was driving. So yes, I totally agree with the above.

Erin Shelton
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