Life continues to be weird. Seriously, how many more blog posts am I going to open this way?!
In order to limit distractions and to hopefully get a little work done, I’ve come up with some guidelines that I wanted to share with you. This blog could have been called Productivity Tip For Surviving an Apocalypse, but I think How To Be Creative During Uncertain Times reads a little better, no?
Without further ado, here are three simple ways to stay sane, happy, and creative — right now!
Limit your expose to the news
I don’t mean that you have to be ignorant about what is going on in the world, but you also don’t need to check the news every thirty minutes or even every day. Honestly, you could probably get away with checking it once a week. If any massive announcements are made, chances are you’ll find out about it through social media, your family, friends, or some other incidental source.
Here’s the thing, you don’t actually need to know how many people died in China today. You also don’t need to read soft-news pieces that detail one individual’s financial hardship.
This information will not enrich your life or make you more ‘prepared’, it will just distract and distress you.
Yes, it is important to be empathetic, but how will reading these types of news stories help you?
This is especially important if you are feeling lost, overwhelmed and/or experiencing a lack of control.
Exposing yourself to excessive amounts of news will only exasperate these feelings.
Break up the routine
This point could be applied to your writing routine or your daily routine in general. As I mentioned in a recent Instagram post, anxiety and depression are the result of stagnant thought patterns or loops. The best way to break this pattern and to create new neural pathways in your brain is to mix up your routine.
Now that most of us no-longer have to commute to work, attend social gatherings, or certain professional events, we have a lot more time up our sleeves.
You don’t have to go to bed at 9 pm or wake at 5 am, but you can if you want to.
Now is a great time to experiment with your writing routine.
If you normally write in the morning, trying writing late at night or vice versa. Depending on your living situation, you could also experiment with writing in different locations around your home: couch, kitchen table, back verandah, bed, bath — throw caution to the wind my friend!
You can also break up your routine by changing the structure of your day. If you normal work out in the morning, try the afternoon. Go for a walk through a different part of your neighbourhood. Cook a different recipe.
If you have a strict morning routine where you journal, meditate, go for a walk, and then drink a cup of tea, trying mixing things up – even if it is only the order of the events.
By shaking things up, you are breaking the thought patterns that can lead to feelings of boredom, restlessness, fatigue, overwhelm and yes, anxiety and depression. (Insert obvious disclaimer).
Make more art
I will admit that I am just as distracted as everybody else is right now. I have had good writing days and bad writing days, but here’s the thing, those good writing days are brilliant. For two hours, I don’t have to think about the pandemic or the long-term ramifications of the global lockdown.
If you find yourself wondering, “what is the point in making art during a pandemic?”, check out my recent blog here.
Making art is a form of expression, but it is also a form of escapism.
Hard writing days are hard: we are all too aware of ourselves and the fact that our work isn’t working. But there is still value in the activity, at the very least it is giving us something to focus on.
There is something really satisfying about engaging with a challenge, working through a puzzling plot hole, and shaping a piece until it eventually resembles our original intention for it.
On good writing days, we ceased to exist because we enter the work so fully.
While having lunch with my partner the other day, we found ourselves discussing the pandemic, rehashing the same concerns: how long will this go on for? Are the numbers tapering off? What is the latest update?
Like many of you, eighty percent of my conversations wind-up being about the pandemic. How could they not?
So, when I return to the desk and resume my work, whether that be writing or research, it feels like a sweet relief.
I can’t control what is happening during this health crisis, I can’t control this lockdown, but I can have some control over my creative process.
I know that things are weird and unstable at the moment. Some of us are out of jobs, some of us are navigating around working from home for the first time, some of us are worried about our health or that of family and friends – I get it!
This is an unprecedented time, so go easy on yourself. Do what you can, set realistic expectations (or no expectations), work, rest, play with your dog, get a little sun and drink a little tea … or whiskey.
This will all be over soon, and hopefully you’ll have some tidy little chapters done at the end of it, and a whole new appreciation of café culture!
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