How To Take Creativity Back In A Global Pandemic

Spending more time at home means a new pressure to be productive and creative. Those don’t always really go together, so I’m going to take creativity back for ME.
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The global pandemic has changed, in one way or another, every aspect of our lives. There's plenty it has taken away, but it has given us an abundance of time.

For some, it’s because of a recent job loss, or a shutdown, or simply because even if you are working, there are fewer places to go out and do what you used to do... as there should be. (Stay home when you can.) But with more time, whether you like it or not, you must do something with it.

Meanwhile, there's peer pressure to be more productive and a nagging feeling. "Make ART! DO something! LEARN a new SKILL!!" 

Because, the flipside to art’s consumption being extremely accessible, is that the creation is also extremely accessible. Ordering books online? You can now order art supplies just as easily. You can learn a new language with an app. You can download the Final Draft and finally write that screenplay. You can find a YouTube tutorial for basically any home improvement project.

Quickly, instead of seeing this time as full of opportunity, you see it as an obligation you haven’t been filling. Why aren't you learning how to speak Italian? Someone is going to be writing the next great American novel right now. Oh, you’re eating chips and watching your 13th makeup tutorial in a row for looks you never plan on trying? I guess it’s not going to be you!   

But then I wonder… why do we have to fill every minute of this extra space, especially when everything happening around us is already taking such a big toll on our mental health? Studies have shown a negative impact, as we've suspected all along.

Think of how you'll remember this pandemic: you being mad at yourself for not doing the projects you weren’t in the right headspace to do? Or do you want to remember what kept you happy and floating above the water's surface? Don’t you want to remember all of the movies and books you let yourself indulge in? Don’t you want to remember the FUN art projects you did? 

What’s the good in making art if you’re bullying yourself into making it? And may, I point out that it usually doesn’t even work. Let's set this "productivity" nonsense aside for a while. 

Of course, I’m not going to totally dismiss this new pressure to do art. Art has kept me afloat, and I really actually would love to be creating something too. There has to be some sort of balance, right?

There is a compromise I've reached. Being creative is important... if you're putting yourself first.

These are the tips that will help you stay creative while working from home:

1. Focus your energy

Part of the problem is, I think, wanting to do too much. How many projects can you actually realistically take on? Sure, you have extra time, but if there are 16 things you want to work on, you’re going to feel busy and overwhelmed all over again. Prioritize what you’re spending time on. If an art project is too difficult and is making you miserable, consider moving onto a different one.  

2. Learn about your passion

And, hey maybe when it’s just too difficult to find joy or motivation in creating something for yourself, read and do research on what you love. If you want to be a published author for instance, but can’t quite get to editing your manuscript yet, research the publishing industry for a while. Read about writing techniques. You’ll still need that knowledge someday, and you’ll still be surrounding yourself with what you love while keeping your goals in mind. 

3. Create for your sake

Personally, instead of trying to arbitrarily check off a box for what’s considered “productive,” I've been trying to do one thing a day that's creative and fulfilling for ME. Art for art’s sake. Art that doesn’t worry about being “good.” Art that’s done with a childhood sense of wonder and the urgency to create.

Yes, of course, there is a need to be productive… for certain things, but that’s an entirely different mindset and list to check off. Productivity is also going to look a little different now, and that’s okay.

And maybe, just maybe, if things ever get better, and we're in the proper mental state, we could collectively start editing our novel-sized-free-style drafts. Maybe we’ll all get there soon, but if not that’s okay too. We will get somewhere eventually. 

4. Celebrate the little things

Meanwhile, I’m going to be proud of my accomplishments. It may not seem like it because it’s a bunch of little projects, instead of one big one, but I actually have written a lot. Over this time, I’ve also managed to really truly make flossing a habit. I don’t even have to think about it anymore! Plus books! I’ve read so many books!

So what if I quit my “piano lessons” after a few days? So what if, despite what I told all my friends and family, I didn’t lift weights and become absolutely shredded. There’re only so many hours in the day, and throughout this crisis (which is still happening by the way) I’ve gotten to the other side of all of them. 

That’s more than enough right now.  

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Kaydee is a writer who is always looking for her next favorite show. She also loves journaling, graphic novels, and late night comedy.

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