3 Principles to Overcome Artist’s Rut

A career or practice in art isn’t easy, and some days, if not most, it can be discouraging. Artists have to face rejection at salespeople’s rates, compete against billion-dollar entertainment companies, and essentially be their own entrepreneurs. Despite the odds, they commit their hearts to their craft because they love what they do. Creation gives artists purpose and makes their voices heard.


If you are committed to being an artist but find yourself in a rut, consider adopting these three principles to return your energy for your craft.


Artist James Rohrbaugh paints on his 1:6 scale models

1. Show Up on Time

“Showing up isn’t half the battle. It’s not 90 percent of the battle. It is the battle.” Jerod Morris

There is no shortcut. There is no way around it. To progress in your craft, you must put in the time. To get good at anything, you must commit yourself to discipline and focus.


Consider yourself akin to a Kung Fu student, an apprentice committed to the path of mastery. She wakes up at sunrise, meditates, warms up her muscles, spends years perfecting her form, spars every day, heals her injuries, and faces her master’s criticism. Day after day, her craft becomes a way of life, not a one-night burst.


Find a routine, a way of life, that will help you stay consistent and balanced. Even if it is only a little progress you make initially, a routine will carve you out to be a better artist at the end of each day.


I recommend checking out the Fabulous mobile app if you need a start on finding your routine.


2. Protect a Positive Attitude

An impossible amount of life is out of your control: the economy, pandemics, genetics, war, accidents, life, death, your own body… the list is endless. But what we CAN control is our mindset; it’s how we approach these uncontrollable variables. Our reactions define our character. Though a positive attitude cannot reverse life, it can transform difficulty into peace and beauty. After all, this is what we artists excel at.


Guarding positivity isn’t an easy task, though. It takes constant vigilance to combat your negative thoughts. For each person, pulling guard duty will look different. I choose to keep a gratitude journal and return to it during the day when things get tough. I also have my mission statement posted everywhere to remind myself why I am making art.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” - Friedrich Nietzsche.

Others choose to listen to their favorite song, dance, go for a jog, pray, meditate, or call their loved ones. Find what works for you! That way, when your pitch gets rejected, someone posts a nasty comment, or you accidentally wipe your hard drive, you have a method to cope and continue trying your best.

Directing on the set of "Hot Fizz"

3. Focus on the Process, Not the Outcome

Focusing on my process was perhaps the most challenging lesson for me to learn. As a filmmaker, a lot of weight rests on my shoulders. I have the pressure of costly budgets, cast expectations, and the trust of my audience. In my early career, I became so worried about my labor's outcome that I lost all the joy I had for my craft. The results of my endeavors became bland and voiceless.


I slowly learned that I performed much better when I let loose and tried to have fun with my work. I allowed myself to incorporate goal-setting into my process without it hijacking my joy for filmmaking. In practice, letting loose of the outcome is not easy to do, but the key to it is simple:


Plan it, then forget it.


Planning goals and fulfilling them is essential, but when it comes time to perform, time to create, you must entirely switch to living in the moment.


The views, the money, the sponsors, the critics, the audience, all of that, forget it. If you make what you to want to make, what compels you, then your labor will become your sweetest fruit. If you accomplish this, you will be able to cope with your mistakes and maintain your happiness.


Mindset is Everything

Showing up on time, protecting a positive attitude, and focusing on the process are principles that contribute to a growth mindset that the artist needs to move forward. If you find yourself stuck or discouraged, choose one of these beliefs to commit to for one week. Make your commitment public to your friends and family. Then find artists who need to take this journey with you.


Sometimes watching others enjoy their work can also give you an extra push. Watch our short documentary on this passionate 1:6 scale model artist. It's helped me and several others return to what they love.


Remember, you are an artist because you love your craft, and you have something in you that deserves to be shared. The world needs reflection, wisdom, beauty, and entertainment.


The world needs you.


Keep it Reel!


About Reel Nation Media

Reel Nation Media was founded in 2014 by Daniel Roy Bills, Lauren Houdek, and Abdullah Abu-Mahfouz. In a world of billion-dollar franchises, binge-watching, and viral videos, they saw the lack of media art that was altogether authentic, fun, and healthy for audiences striving to be conscious and sincere with their media consumption. The motion-picture and art studio will continue to create entertainment crafted to heal and inspire audiences.



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