It’s surprisingly hard to create art during a pandemic. Who knew?
It’s OK to not be OK
We creatives can be an odd lot. When we’re creating, we can often be completely convinced that whatever we’re making is absolute rubbish. When we’re not creating, we get antsy, eager to return to doing that thing we’re sure is… absolute rubbish.
But when Covid-19 landed on us, as a planet, things took a sudden hard turn, and our lives became a chaotic mix of dodgy health advice and non-stop worrying about the health and well-being of our loved ones.
And that shit is hard on our creativity.
So, first thing’s first, I want to tell you – yes, you – that it is okay to not be okay.
It’s okay to be scared, worried, fretting, or otherwise unable to focus on anything other than pure survival.
It is absolutely okay to eat as much chocolate as your house currently holds, and then order more off the internet.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you haven’t been able to create anything in a while. Whether you’re a writer or photographer, an artist or a poet, sometimes our creativity takes a nosedive, especially during times of stress or uncertainty.
That’s all right. Because what matters right now is that you live.
You can’t create a damn thing if you die in a pandemic, got that?
So, number one piece of advice here is this:
Do what you gotta do, eat what you want to eat, build the best blanket fort the world has ever seen, but look after yourself.
Restarting your creativity
If you feel like you’re ready to start up again, but the wheels have fallen off your creativity wagon, it can take a little bit of a jump-start to get going again. Here are a few handy tips for firing up the furnace:
- Start small. If you’ve been stalled for a while, you likely aren’t going to return to your pre-pandemic productivity levels immediately. Are you a writer? Then aim for a few words, not a day’s work. An artist? Do some warm-up sketches, rather than trying to plan a whole piece.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Who cares if another person in your field kept working like life hadn’t interrupted them? You can only live your life, and worrying about comparisons only takes more time and energy away from your own achievements.
- Don’t compare yourself to past you. That’s the same as comparing yourself to other people. Beating yourself up over what you could do at the end of 2019 is equally unfair
- Don’t let others tell you what you can and can’t do. Feel like writing 2,000 words today? Great! Don’t listen to anyone who says it’s ‘impossible’ under the current circumstances! Think you can make headway on a photography project? Brilliant! Get stuck in, and don’t let those who can’t derail you.
- Reduce your news intake. Being constantly surrounded by wall-to-wall coverage of a pandemic really increases our cortisol levels. Don’t be ashamed of turning it off. The lower your stress levels, the better you are at fighting illness, as well as being creative, so if you’re struggling, just check in with the news once a day.
- Try something new. If you’re struggling to write, maybe try drawing? If you can’t draw right now, how about taking some pictures with your phone? If you can’t get out and photograph your favourite subjects, why not grab some scissors and make a collage? Get outside of your regular wheelhouse and you might feel the creativity start to unlock itself.
- Keep a journal. If you weren’t a diarist or journalist before now, why not start? Jot down your thoughts, keep magazine clippings you like, print your favourite Tweets and stick them to a page, or whatever else takes your fancy each day. Having something to focus on each day can help you fire up your brain.
- Travel online. Google Maps has introduced an amazing new feature called Treks, which features several amazing locations around the world which you can explore from your phone or computer. Learn about Mont Blanc, the Amazon Basin, Petra, and more, all accompanied with stunning photography. Feeding wonder and awe into your brain can help stir it back to life.
- Catch up on things you missed. TV shows, films, books, music, whatever it is you might have blotted out in 2020, why not start catching up? Give your brain something other than constant coronavirus updates to chew on, and it might start working on something amazing to make or do.
No can-do? No worries!
So you looked over the list, and stuck your fingers up at the screen? Don’t worry about it. You might not be ready just yet, and that’s okay. Come back to it next week, or next month, or next year.
But do try again, because you’re a creative person, and sooner or later you’ll want to rekindle the flame.
Best of luck to you, and stay safe!