Hitting a creative slowdown, what should one do to get out of it? 🤯

Welcome back to my weekly newsletter. This is going to be a series of articles covering how we came up with the idea of Calm Sleep, scaled to over a million users in less than a year, and all that with less than $1,000 worth of total investment. 🌱


I’m Akshay Pruthi, an entrepreneur who loves to build products from the ground up. Over the past 6 years, I’ve built multiple products from scratch and scaled them to millions of users. This is my attempt to share our most important lessons from building one of those apps - Calm Sleep. 🤗


Every week I will publish an article about a different challenge we faced while building Calm Sleep.


Last week, we discussed - How do you make your app talk to the users? 🤔


What is in this week’s read


  • Escaping the stagnancy/creative block.


With revenue & growth stalling, I was hitting a creative slowdown and couldn’t figure out where to focus.



In writing, there’s something called “Writer’s block”. It’s a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author is unable to produce new work or experiences. In simple terms, it can be summed up as a creative slowdown. This creative stall is not a result of commitment problems or a lack of writing skills. The condition ranges from difficulty in coming up with original ideas to being unable to churn out even a single word.


At Calm sleep I was going through a similar cycle where I was constantly asking myself:

  1. How do I add value to users?

  2. How do I grow further?

  3. How do I increase my revenue?

And I had no clear answers. When a writer hits “Writer’s block”, they overcome it by freewriting, speaking to friends, changing the environment, exploring a different writing niche, going for a walk, spending some time by themselves or basically doing anything that keeps them away from their previously mundane writing assignment. More importantly, what they don’t do is: Not write until they feel inspired, feeling self-pity, by making excuses.


When I was missing out on my creative streak, I decided to do the same. But instead of waiting for inspiration to hit me on its own sweet time, I chased it. Here’s how:


  1. I read all my blogs.

  2. Dug deeper into data.

  3. Talked to experts.


How did reading blogs help?

Because who doesn’t like re-instilling confidence, right? But really, reading old blogs was an eye-opener as I realised how far we’ve come. It helped me regain focus and relook at the game-changing practices that I initially followed, but tossed away in the process.


  1. I felt inspired. Reading or going back in history to see what you have accomplished inspires you to do more.

  2. I rediscovered the passion. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. Sometimes, in the midst, you see a decline in passion. Reading all the blogs helped me remember why I started in the first place.


How did digging deeper into data help?

Amidst my block, I asked myself countless times - Are my users drawing value from this app? I didn’t have a concrete answer and this annoyed me to the bits. I knew that the only way to find out was by diving into the data. And so, I dug into the new user journeys vs power user journeys, again! As new insights were discovered, my faith in the statement that ‘data never disappoints’ was successfully restored!


We did an interesting analysis. The basic theory of improving your new user journey is to discover why power users are using your app and use that insight to convert new users to power users.


  1. We listed all the core actions of the app

  2. We observed the frequency and repetitiveness of the usage of those actions for power users vs new users.


For eg.


For instance, this means our power users were using push notifications to come to the app 31 times more than the new users.


Based on this, we designed some new experiments:


Experiment 1:

A new user will now see the high habit sound on the home page, free for 7 days.

The hypothesis is that new users, after listening to this sound will form a habit and eventually be ready to pay for it.


Change 2:

We nudge the user towards opting in to select the 120 min timer option. The hypothesis is - the more time they give listening on the app, the higher will be the probability of them sleeping peacefully.



How did talking to experts help?

I am like the one-man-army for Calm. This mandates me to converse with experts from various fields so that I don’t adopt a single-track/biased approach. Moreover, this is the only way to get both personal & professional ideas/feedback/compliments.


More about how and when to create a growth team in the next article.


In a nutshell, it’s perfectly alright if you are experiencing something similar. It takes perseverance to achieve good results. The key is to be consistent and keep on digging the basics.


Until next time, keep calm :)


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