4 ways to break out of a creative rut

4 ways to break out of a creative rut

It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing when you walk into your craft space with a brilliant idea and dive straight into making, isn’t it? And a not-so-wonderful thing when you’re completely out of creative juice. I’ve been in both places, and I’m sure you have too. Creative ruts can be frustrating, so today I’m sharing 4 things I do to help myself get out of them, and get my creative mojo back.

1. Look outside of papercrafting for inspiration

I used to try to get new cardmaking ideas from Instagram, but found that it wasn’t an ideal approach. After all, I didn’t want to just reproduce another crafter’s card! Instead, I’ve found my favorite creations tend to be when the inspiration has come from outside the papercrafting world – think interior design, architecture, packaging, pottery, fashion and nature.

4 ways to break out of a creative rut

2. Play with color

Sometimes playing with my color swatches is enough to get me re-inspired to create. Sometimes I’ll just open up my swatch book and start mixing and matching things together, and other times I’ll see something (a piece of art, clothing, packaging etc), then find inks in my stash that closely match it. If I’m not quite ready to create (or if I still have no idea what I’m going to do with those colors), I’ll either take a photo of the palette and save it for later, or stamp a quick swatch of the combination. This makes it super easy to get started on a new project later.

4 ways to break out of a creative rut

3. Make “card components” that you’ll use in the future

Sometimes we pressure ourselves to complete a card (or several) in a single crafting session, but that can be challenging if the design has a lot of components. If I’m in a creative rut but still want to do something crafty, I’ll do things like:

Cut and score card bases/panels – you can’t make cards without ’em!

Batch create sentiments – These could be stamped, embossed or hot foiled. Sets like the Essentials by Ellen Way with Words and Positive Vibes make it super easy to create many sentiments at once, and the Sentiment Strips die cuts out all of the Positive Vibes words in a single pass. I’ve got little trays in one of my craft drawers full of these on various colors of cardstock, so they’re ready whenever I need a sentiment for a card in the future.

Foil backgrounds (and reverse foil them too) – While your foiling machine is on, you might as well use it, right? I like to batch create backgrounds with a bunch of my hot foil plates in various colors, then I trim those panels down to a little bigger than A2 so they’re ready for my next craft session. You can do this with any of your hot foil plates, and cover plate dies work too! (See my post about how I like to do that here.) The new Essentials by Ellen Press Plate will allow you to reverse-foil and put that leftover foil to use instead of to waste. Sometimes I like reverse-foiled images even more than the originals!

Create backgrounds – It might be with alcohol ink, stamps, stenciling, ink blending, gel press… whatever you feel like playing with! Even if you have no idea what kind of card you’re going to turn your background into, it’s always nice to have a big stash to choose from.

Color stamped images with layering stencils – Sometimes layering stencils have as many as 8 layers, and that may feel like a lot – especially if you’re doing it in the same session as all of your other card elements. In addition, you might not know what those other elements are going to be or how you’ll compose the card. I’ve found that by just focusing on this part of creation and not worrying about the rest, I do a better job with the stenciling work than I normally would.

4 ways to break out of a creative rut

4. Take a break entirely

I’m not sure it’s possible to spend too much time crafting, but sometimes, you really do just need a break. When my idea well is dry, I do my best not to worry about it too much. Typically by shifting my attention to other things (seeing my friends and family, work, fitness, being outside, and doing non-papercrafting projects) it’s only a matter of a few days before my crafting mojo returns.

4 ways to break out of a creative rut

Alright, I’d love to know: What do YOU do to break out of creative ruts? Share your tips in the comments below!


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3 thoughts on “4 ways to break out of a creative rut

  1. Gina K has wonderful videos for 5 minute cards. I am more of a card copier than creative type so her videos are fantastic for me. I know the end product will be fabulous. The card you posted is a perfect template. Swipes of color with images stamped over in black. There are so many ways to execute the template. TY for the inspiration.

  2. Beautiful card and great ideas. My #1 way to break out of a rut is to clean my space. I keep it relatively neat because it is in our living room, but stuff piles up. I give my cutting plates a good wash, all the inks in order, etc. #2 is to google something that could inspire me. “Summer sunset” “pillow with orange”. You never know where the internet will lead!

  3. All good ideas. My #1 favorite jump start is to watch a technique video and then create a similar card in my own style from my stash. #2 is similar but using a sketch I find online. #3 is to remake one of my own older cards but change the orientation, color scheme, etc.

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