As dancers, you know how rewarding creative endeavors can be—but you also know how tremendously challenging they are. Sometimes we just don’t feel inspired, or new ideas seem out of reach.
Creativity is complicated: Earlier this month, researchers at Kent University and Sussex University identified 14 different components that make up the creative process, like persistence and being able to deal with uncertainty. Other studies have noted that it can take both positive and negative emotions to help creativity thrive—feelings of frustration can drive us to fix problems or complete daunting tasks.
Still, there are strategies that can help. Whether you’re struggling with choreographer’s block, interpreting a new role or trying to keep each Nutcracker performance fresh, here are some of our best tips for when you’re stuck in a creative rut.
Try a quick fix. Sometimes all it takes is a little push to jumpstart the creative process, and there are plenty of quirky research-backed tactics that can help you see a problem from a different angle. It could be as simple as letting your mind wander during a break from rehearsal instead of using the time to check your phone—daydreaming has been found to help with creative problem solving.
Write it out. You may already keep a journal—it’s a handy place to jot down helpful corrections or technique tips you want to remember. But journaling has also been found to increase creativity, when used to reflect or meditate on something. Try brainstorming freely on the page next time you’re choreographing and don’t know where to start.
Take a break. Though you may be reluctant to miss class or worried about falling behind in rehearsal, allowing yourself to take an occasional vacation, even a short one, is vital to your health for many reasons. Plus, one Dutch study found that exploring new surroundings and having different experiences may help get your creative juices flowing.
Don’t give up. It can be tempting to throw in the towel when inspiration isn’t striking, but one study found that people tend to underestimate their abilities, and often quit a problem before they come up with their best ideas. We all get stuck sometimes, but trust that your perseverance will pay off—and you may surprise yourself with what you’re able to achieve.