Reid M Petro Cinematography and filmmaking blog.

Getting Out of Your Creative Rut


My creativity has a natural ebb and flow to it. Some days I feel as though I have the whole world at my disposal, I can do anything and accomplish whatever. Other days it just feels like I am a paper weight; my task is meaningless and I don’t know what I am doing. These are trying times, you become unmotivated and question almost everything, even what you should have for lunch. Getting stuck in their ruts is one of the reasons people drop their creative endeavours all together. I am no expert on psychology or behavior studies, but I do have a lot of experience dealing with this through my own struggles. Here is what I have found to help me get out of these creative ruts.



Identification & acknowledgment

This is the first step and it comes with time and self reflection. It’s all about knowing when you are stuck in a rut or on a roll. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, but it is essential to be able to gauge where you are at on that spectrum. It is critical to getting out, or staying away, from a rut. Unfortunately, you need to discover this for yourself. It’s hard to make any sort of advice in this respect, however, it requires self reflection and analysis of oneself.


So you have identified that you are heading towards a rut, or in one already. The world seems cruel and you feel alone in your pursuit. You are stuck and don’t know what to do. This is more than a “writer's block”. So what can, and should, you do? In this slump I am very internal. I feel alone because this is a very personal thing that we are dealing with. You need to start externalizing these feelings and thoughts with others. Someone who you trust and really know. My girlfriend Ashley and cousin Jon are my go to. When you start to talk about the situation with others they can lend a hand and help you through the rut, and honestly in my experience, that alone can help tremendously. It’s not about creating a pity party, but rather, an environment to express what you’re going through. Keeping those destructive thoughts and feelings to yourself is not health, nor will it help in any way. It’s tough to be vulnerable, but it’s worth it in the end.

Hit The Reset Button

So you’ve talked to people you trust and you’ve got your thoughts externalized, now what? For me, it helps to step back from the project, your craft, and frankly film making all together. Try doing something that is not at all related to any of those things. Exercising, exploring, reading non fictions, meeting up with friends, and cleaning are some of my preferred methods to get away. This is tough to do in practice, and it takes a lot of self discipline sometimes. More often than not, I want to work extra hard at the task at hand if it isn’t going my way; I want to try and push through it with will power and determination. Pushing through isn’t going to make the process any faster, just more frustrating. It’s best just to leave something be and take a break. You will find you are less stressed and frustrated with the task when you give yourself time to take a breather and reset. I find, when I take a break from a project or task my mind is still hard at work solving the problem, and an idea that I needed will come to me out of the blue. Take a break once in awhile, you won’t regret it.

Keep Calm & Create On.

There is really no way to make being in a rut gone or painless. The rut always takes a certain level of patience, self discipline, and endurance that’s challenging. No matter who you are, I think we all go through them as humans and creatives. It’s a part of the ebb and flow of life.


Try working on a creative endeavor you know almost nothing about. Try something new. Maybe that’s composing music or painting or even writing a poetry. Whatever that may be for you try it out. You may find a new passion, but more importantly you can discover new perspectives to bring to your main craft. All art connects, I am a firm believer in that, and film brings together most every form of art imaginable. When you begin a new craft no one is expecting anything from you, you are, in a way, free from the pressure to do good. It’s art for art’s sake, which is good to pursue every now and again.

This Too Shall Pass.

Know that the struggles of today will pass. They always do, if you can stay positive and keep your chin up. When you get down know you will, and can, get past it. Easier said than done, however, these times do pass. Never think of it as the end, merely as a roller coaster. Our motivation and creativity travels through peaks and valleys. This roller coaster is part of human nature, we cannot fear that. The key thing is to keep moving and keep striving for your goals. When you have perseverance you can accomplish anything.



Everything is easier said than done, I assure you. Hopefully, this can be a guide for you and help identify your own situation. This article is just as much for me as it is for you. Who knows, maybe these lows were a design feature. Maybe, these ruts are there to give us a break from the normal and routine. A way to force us to try new and different things. A way to get us out of our comfort zone. A way to keep challenging our perspective. Maybe, we can grow to respect, and even love, ruts.