GALLERIES

    Creative Ruts, Self Doubt, and Moving Forward

    Last week was a long one– I found myself in a defeating creative rut. Seriously one of my least favorite things in the world. When I’m feeling flat, I’m beyond hard on myself. Which never helps grease the wheels to get back on track. By the weekend I started to feel a little better. I started listing out what was weighing on me to be constructive and then began to break down each so I could move forward.

    With a little time, I eventually overcame the block and thought I’d share a few ways to sift through ruts and let go of thoughts of self-doubt.

    1. Don’t overflow your plate. After I left my 9-5, my focus obviously changed drastically. What used to be maintaining consistency and using my creative outlet whenever I could, was now a pool of opportunity. Thoughts, to do lists, admin tasks, more partnerships– and although this was all so exciting and amazing for my new endeavor, everything was swimming around my mind in no order. I had to learn quickly how to better manage my thoughts and my time. I learned to not craft a daunting to-do list each day. Break tasks down hour by hour so I could implement structure. This was a huge reason for my creative block/feeling overwhelmed.

    2. Don’t compare. One unexpected thing that happened when I took on my blog full-time is I started to compare myself to others. It’s something I’ve heard other bloggers discuss again and again in the past but maybe I just didn’t have the time for it when I was juggling my full-time job and site. I also have been blogging since I was in high school, at a time where blog was not a well-known word. I kept it personal and only shared with a few close friends and family… it was the purest period for my content.

    Nowadays, it’s somewhat hard not to question myself at times, because the blog space is full as ever. So many extremely talented women out there. I think comparing takes the cake for killing creativity. It’s the worst thing you can do. Anytime it happens to me; I do my absolute best to eject the idea from my mind quickly. The most empowering thing you can share is your unique point of view, letting yourself compare or put down your work only holds you back. Plus, there’s room for everyone!

    3. Creativity comes from within, but you can’t don’t force it. I noticed recently that I was overthinking my content much more than when this passion all began. Overthinking can sometimes kill authenticity and the natural aspect of crafting something unique. Especially Instagram in recent months, I’ve felt this weird sense of overthinking. I downloaded Instagram the day it launched– as a lover of photography, I’ve used it daily since. It’s had a profound impact on sharing my perspective and cultivating my aesthetic, but lately, I question my posts.

    I mean, at this point it’s a well-known conversation, engagement has gone down and it does affect bloggers. I’ve never been one to check on my comments and likes, but when you see a major decrease, I think it’s normal to think “what am I doing wrong/differently than before”? At the end of the day, my blog is my number one platform, it’s all my own, and I can’t control other platforms, so for this… just gotta brush it off my shoulder. I like to share; I like to take photos and experiment with my camera, so I am going to go back to sharing without holding back. 

    4. Remember why you started. Sifting through my thoughts helped immensely because it made me realize all I need is a little reset. Remember why I started this blog, and to continue to focus on that. I’m here to bring you content with a twist, new ideas, things you have yet to discover– this is my goal for 2017.

    5. Little things go a long way. Take a walk to grab a coffee you love a few neighborhoods away. Go back and visit old posts you created. Go pick up a few inspiring magazines and flip through them. Read a book! Step away from the screen and immerse yourself in nature or somewhere that makes you happy. Overall, the best thing you can do is give yourself a little extra TLC through this speed bump. You’ll feel like yourself again in no time!

    I hope this helps someone who can relate to that damn creative block. Thank you for reading!

    Ph. by Lucy Williams

     

    Do you ever run into a creative rut? What do you do to solve this bump in the road?

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    13 December

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    • Ashley

      I can totally relate to being in a creative rut– same here lately, friend! Your Napa trip sounds fabulous. Have a glass for me!

      • Throw in the craziness that is the holidays– doesn’t help much! But everything always gets better. Hope you escape your rut soon, Ash! I will most certainly have a glass (or two) for you! xx

    • Hi Ashley,

      I love how your goal with your content is to help people out! I think that’s definitely the right way to keep your content the purest :). I have a blog on the side and i feel that I fall into some of the traps you’ve mentioned too.

      Love your blog!
      Akansha @ Citrus & Gold

      • Hi Akansha,

        Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! Just keep sharing what you love 🙂 I bookmarked your blog, and am taking some notes on some of these recipes! So many good ones. Thank you again! x

    • I agree with the whole comparing thing. I’ve finally reached a point where I realized I need to stop doing that. I’m so glad you’ve gone through the same things too!

      alexamjohnson.com

      • Totally. Whenever I feel like I am in a good groove with my eyes on the road, I am much more proud of my content. Just need to keep at it! x

    • I get like this more often times than not sadly…I started blogging in 2012 when it all about guest posts and fun collages and somewhere along the way I felt like I didn’t ‘get on the wagon’ of what blogging is now and kinda fell behind. I am ‘happy’ with where I am and what I create because it is full of personality and is 100% authentic but it’s so hard to be surrounded by people doing it ‘better’ especially when your surrounded in real life by other bloggers. I kinda miss the days where the people in my life didn’t know much about blogs or only followed the ‘OGs’ (LOL) because they thought what I was doing was SO cool and my 40 likes were amazing…now I am old news and outliked by younger girls who don’t even know what myspace is haA! ok sorry for the rant XX

      • I love your blog and think you’re doing an amazing job, so keep it up!

        Thanks so much for always being so honest and kind, Emily – I really appreciate it and am happy we’ve become social friends! xx

    • Totally feel you on the feeling restricted part- nothing shuts down creativity like overthinking and feeling confined to certain “rules” of social media, etc!

      One thing I’ve found helpful for managing my workload is to start the week off doing creative projects (shooting, styling, writing) first, rather than reactive duties (email, etc)– I find that it’s way too easy to get caught up in responding to emails and social media, then when it’s finally time to create, I’m already tapped out. Hope this helps, Ashley! Love following along with you xx

      • Hi Minna,

        This absolutely does help. I LOVE hearing how other creatives operate during the work week, and it totally makes sense to use that fresh, new week energy on the creative side of thing to ignite some inspiration for the week ahead. Good call, thank you for sharing!

        And thank you for the sweet note, that means so much xx

    • This happens to me more times than not… I always find myself questioning the “flow” of my Instagram feed or whether or not a post will be well-received. However, I’ve always loved your content and Scout has been the cutest addition to your feed. As such, keep doing what you’re doing because a lot of us love it. 🙂

      • Amen! I am very particular about my “quilt” I call it, and need to not be *as much*. I have fun making it all flow nicely and tell a story, but it most certainly can hold me back at times.

        Thanks so much, Abby! Love your blog, too! xx

    • Love this post Ashley! It’s nice to take a break from the usual and get personal. I totally experience all these things all the time! Especially the comparing yourself to other bloggers and losing creativity. To be honest, when I lose my creative flow, I usually step back and just completely forget about social media or reading other blogs – it does amazing things for you! You begin to miss it for one, but second, creativity and inspiration begins to flow again out of no where when you step away from your computer and Instagram and Twitter and Bloglovin and all the things!!

      I realize I still have my fulltime job, so may not apply to you anymore :-/ BUT I do find that just forgetting about a schedule, forgetting about the need to publish to Instagram, and just letting yourself go when it comes to the blog really helps. Not putting pressure on yourself to always be publishing really makes a difference. Once I started telling myself that’s totally ok not to be publishing 4 times a week or even two! Hell, it’s totally ok to go a week without a post… it took so much stress off. And it makes everything fun again when I come back to it, when I’m just feeling “meh” about my blog. Plus, your faithful readers will always be there for you!!!

      • Nat, you are the sweetest, and one of my favorite inspirations. You have such a good point though… and you know what’s funny? I went to my girlfriends house tonight a couple of blocks away and accidentally forgot my phone (that’s what happens when you have a puppy and his puppy diaper bag to collect before leaving), and it felt so good to just be completely present, away from my email and posting.

        Thank you for always inspiring me, and for being a wonderful friend. xx

    • John Kane

      Ashley: If you have not read Steven Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” you should. His first habit “First Things First” helped me through my last five years of school as the assistant principal, athletic director and head football coach. Keep up the good work.

      • Papa! I did read it! Dad gave it to me as my high school graduation gift, it’s one of the most impactful reads I’ve read to date. 🙂 I remember him saying something about him introducing it to you, so thank you for that! 🙂

        Love you!!!!

        • John Kane

          If I remember correctly, he has a book called “First Things First” which expands on his first habit. Don’t forget to practice the 7th habit, too. Love you, too!!!

    • Sara

      I love your content and feel inspired by your honesty, so thank you for sharing! Meadowood has also been on my list so I can’t wait to hear how you like it. Enjoy your getaway!

      • Hi Sara,

        Thank you so much! I really appreciate you taking the time so say hello and for reading my blog. 🙂 I will absolutely let you know about our time at Meadowood goes, and am sure will be sharing photos all weekend. 🙂 xx

    • Kaitlyn Noble

      Ashley! This post resonated with me so intensely. A few things…I want to tell you, and I am truly not blowing smoke, it’s literally like autopilot when I am having a blank moment working to go to your site. There’s just something about the variety and photography that keeps me coming back. You’re more about interesting content than just posting photos of yourself, which I don’t find a whole lot in lifestyle blogs.

      Working for myself, I can’t tell you how often the creative ruts happen, and while I always dreamed of making my own schedule, it is not an easy feat. Comparing is natural, but anytime you feel “different” than the content you’re looking at, know that you’ve got this food blogger visiting on the daily 🙂

      • Muffin! I miss you first of all.

        Second of all, thank you SO much for saying that. It’s funny how we can be so hard on ourselves, yet outsiders would never expect it. That’s why this community is so amazing, we lift each other up. 🙂

        Always here if you’re going through something tough or need advice with your blog. I ALSO still have your dress, which is so embarrassing/appalling. We need to catch up. Lots of love! xx

    • Victoria Holliday

      I started following you years ago on IG because we live in the same neighborhood. But I have always loved how genuine your content is, how open to feedback you are, and that you take the time to respond to questions. I also feel like you’ve really grown and it shows it what you create. I work in a creative field and I know how disheartening and frustrating feeling blocked can be. But I try to remind myself those moments are not a reflection of my talent, I’m just not feeling it that day – and that’s OK.

      Farmstead is amazing – get the cheddar biscuits. And please keep posting (more Scout!)

      • Victoria, thank you so much! I am so grateful you took the time to say hello and am happy to hear from you! It’s always so nice to connect with someone who has been reading this site for awhile, it has evolved quite a bit, so thank you for being a part of it all. 🙂

        And you’re totally right, it is normal to go through these days– and I am so lucky to have such wonderful people like you out there to relate too! I appreciate it.

        ALSO, thank you for the Farmstead rec, I am so excited!! And many more Scout posts to come!!

    • Nicole Raudonis

      I completely agree with everything you’ve said here. I’ve had my current blog, Simply-Nicole.com, since 2009, and I had livejournals, xanga, etc. before that. The blogging world definitely has changed over the last (almost) decade, and I question my posts even more now. It’s a constant struggle, but one of my goals in 2017 is to just produce content b/c I WANT to, not in competition with other bloggers.

      xo, Nicole

      • Oh, my! Livejournal days– I had one, too!

        I think you have the right idea though, make 2017 your by just focusing on you and your site and what inspires you. Thank you so much for saying hello and for visiting my blog. 🙂 It means so much. xx

    • Katherine Dlaka

      I loved reading this! I work full time as a ER nurse in Oakland and while I love my job I’ve been secretly dreaming about starting a blog just for a creative outlet (and to express myself in other ways besides as a nurse) I find your blog inspiring and uplifting-can’t imagine what more you could want then to inspire others! You go girl, keep doing you! Xo p.s your Instagram account is one of my “go to’s”– your style is beautiful!

      • You totally should start a blog! If it will make you happy and will help ignite inspiration, then absolutely go for it.

        I so so appreciate your kind note, it means so much to hear! Thank you, Katherine! xx

    • Kristi Parker

      Thank you for being so honest and raw, it’s really refreshing to read and honestly your blog is one of my favorites, it’s always unique and has such a good variety. So much inspiration!

      • Thank you, Kristi! I really appreciate your note and for saying hello! xx

    • Marine

      I found your Instagram (as it is my favorite social media platform as a lover of photography) first and I fell in love instantly, then went through your blog and fell even harder. I adore your aesthetic but most of all your personality. You seem so sweet and genuine and you’re oh so creative. I love the diversity of posts on your blog and it is honestly one of my favorites and I cannot wait to see what you’re cooking up for 2017!

      Have a fun week end, Ashley 🙂

      • Hi Marine!

        Thank you so much. That is so kind, and it means so much to hear! Your sweet note made my evening. Thank you for reading my site and for saying hello!

        I hope you have a wonderful weekend and holiday! x

    • kara

      What I love about your blog is that it’s lifestyle. Not just fashion, or cooking/ entertaining or travel. A combo of all. I think your point of view is sophisticated without being pretentious and you are very approachable! Plus you give a glimpse at your real life which I think people are always drawn to. Makes everything more attainable. I mean a $3,000 handbag is lovely but not realistic for most people. Some blogs feel over saturated with super luxury items which is a bit much. Keep it up!

    • kara

      PS have a great time in Napa. Since you’re up in St Helena you should definitely check out Titus vineyards on Silverado Trail at Deer Park Rd. it’s just North of Meadowood. A great selection of wines and stunning new modern tasting room. If it’s not too cold make sure to take in the view on their outdoor patio! Call in advance. Since the tasting room is new they’re required to be “by appointment” but I think they’re pretty flexible.

    • Maggie Johnson

      Hi Ashley!! Your Instagram and blog inspire me daily, and I totally feel like we look at life the same way. Thanks for having such great content and motivating me to live my creative dreams, too. I love what you do!! –Maggie (@maggiedesign)

    • Laura Madden

      awww Ashley! Thank you for writing this and sharing so openly. And THANK YOU for being YOU. The fact that you can even mutter the words ‘creative rut’ makes me feel at ease- ONLY because you are clearly killing it at work- and life- and that still you can make such beauty happen and move forth and inspire so many with what you put out into the world… there’s hope for the rest of us- especially me as I tip toe into the blogger world. XOXO Have a FABULOUS time in Napa and enjoy the room service!

    • Laura Madden

      Oh and- I’ve been feeling the same. Possibly its a Nov/ Dec Bay Area thing? I just moved here, so possibly that is the case. 😉