Photo by ariq sulaiman on Unsplash
Many of us have been creating in isolation since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year. Some people have been producting all kinds of music, art or writing while others have been feeling stuck because of the uncertanity of the times.
As the pandemic ebbs and flows, there's no doubt about it, at least for the forseeable future, COVID-19 and it's variants will continiue to plague many of our lives for awhile. How can we get past the often scary and unpredictable virus mentally, physically and emotionally and get on with our creative lives if it has us stuck.
Here's a few ideas to help you adapt and move forward with your creativity during these times::
Mentally and Emotionally
The biggest hurdle is to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the possiblity of future quarantines or at least working in isolation for awhile.
-Ground yourself: Whether it's Prayer, meditation, or other Mindfulness practices., practice a daily ritual to help you keep anxiety at bay. Find a way to get still and focus on yoiur well-being.
-Be gentle with yourself. This new reality many of us are living is challenging. Don't get hard on yourself if you don't feel like creating right now. Allow yourself time to relax, rest and reflect, if need be. Disenage from the "grind" culture of producing, no matter what your peers are doing. Work at a pace, if anything, that works for you. If a few months or weeks are unproductive, give yourself compassion, not pity or anger. We are all working through this the best way we can.
Move your body at least once a day whether it's walking, dancing, exercise, yoga, etc. Do what makes you feel good without over doing it. Movement releases tension, anxietiy and stress that can weigh on the body and create blockages to our creativity.
Spend time outside in nature, whether it's a daily walk, hiking or another activity such as grabbing lunch outdoors, doing nature sketching, or meditating. Consider bring the outdoors inside such as plants and flowers to decorate your space. Nature can provide a feeling of calmness and help bring equanimitiy to your daily life.
Physical Space: Go through all of your studio materials and sell or dispose of stuff. you don't need. Create a storage system for your supplies that makes it easier to retrieve and put a way when finished with your creative practice. Your creative space will feel lighter and more inspiring to create as well as bring a positive energy to the place.
Mental Space: What's holding you back from your creative practice mentally? How can you clear out the negative messages so you can hold yourself accountable? Work with some affirmations about your creative goals and intentions and keep them handy. Review your schedule and see what things are a priority and what may need to go. Practice some of the grounding activities above to help gain insight. Schedule time with a therapist, a coach or someone you can talk to about anything in your life that you have difficulty letting go of for a more peaceful, creative life. Make to-do lists for creative activities daily or weekly so it can be added as a priority.
Reach Out and Touch Someone: Virtually
If connecting to other artists, writers or creatives is not safe or possible, work on establishing relationships online. Sign up for creative co-working sessions with others, participate in online writing/poetry open mics and other art critiques/sharing opportunities. If you are on social media, establish some relationships with other creatives online that you admire or have shown interest in iyour work. Collaborate with other creatives on projects or get involve with an art swap. Join or start a virtual book club for creatives. The sense of community can be built beyond four walls and can invite rich social experiences as well.
Professional Development for Creatives
Are there workshops, trainings, etc., that you always wanted to attend? Do you have a passion for writing poetry and would like guidance? How about a new art making technique? What about an creativity building or Artist's Way Group to help with some inspiration? If you can afford it, this is a time to discover oir add to your creative skills without a lot of distractions and meet others doing the same thing as well. If finances are a little slim, try listening to podcasts for creatives, checking out YouTube videos on art techniques as alternatives to formal online courses and trainings.
Experiment with Social Media
Social media can be an asset or a liability during these times. If you want to reach more people with your work, try a social media platform that you are not familiiar with or haven't tried. Find ways to bring attention to you work using videos, photos, live broadcasts and other methods. Or it may be a time to review what you are using as platforms and focus on what's working best and delete those that are not working well
Remember this season of our lives is difficult for everyone. As we learn more about COVID-19 and how it will affect us, know that being gentle with your creative cycle and staying healthy is the most important thing. Use your intuition as you move forward and connect with others for help and support as much as possible.
Feel free to share other ideas on how you have been moving through the pandemic creatively below.
If you have a career that requires creativity or you’ve ever needed a creative solution to a problem, you’re aware of how challenging it can be to be creative on command. Creativity seems to come and go with little rhyme or reason. Have you ever wished you could proactively boost your creativity? You can!
Like any other skill, the ability to increase your creativity gets better with practice and experience. Get started today and you’ll find yourself being more creative in the future.
These strategies will encourage your creativity to blossom:
Work in a new environment. It’s amazing how much a change of scenery can help! Try working in the library or a coffee shop. Rearrange your office and change the view. When you do the same things in the same place, you’ll tend to think the same thoughts.
-Turn off your autopilot and expose your senses to new stimuli.
Pretend you’re helping someone else find solutions. Many people find that they have more creative ideas when helping others solve their challenges.
-Pretend you’re helping a friend and let the ideas flow. Depersonalizing the issue seems to free up a part of the mind that’s otherwise stifled.
Brainstorm in pairs. Have you ever noticed that you and a friend or coworker find more creative ideas between the two of you rather than when brainstorming in a group? Break away from the group and pair up with just one other person.
-When a large group brainstorms, most of the group members lack a sense of accountability. It’s too easy to be passive.
Try being creative at a different time of the day. If you normally write in the morning, try the evening. Try staying up extra late or getting up extra early for a change. If you’ve been feeling stuck at 9 AM for a while, it’s time try a different hour of the day. Set your alarm clock for 3 AM and force yourself to work for 20 minutes.
Try some music. Few things can change your mood and get those creative juices flowing faster than a great song. Try different types of music and see what works. Avoid sticking to only your favorites. Branch out and listen to something new.
Meditate. Meditation is useful tool for giving your mind a well-needed break. You’ll find your thoughts start to become reenergized. Simple and elegant solutions frequently reveal themselves after a short period of meditation.
-Meditation requires a little practice, but it’s easier to learn than you may think. Meditate on your challenges and be open to the thoughts that arise.
Stay hydrated. Get a drink of water! Your body is mostly water. Even a small degree of dehydration causes all sorts of biological processes to go haywire. If you’re feeling stuck, take a minute to drink a large glass of water.
-Remember to drink throughout the day and the evening.
Go outside. Try getting outside for a little exercise. The late John Denver frequently commented that all of his best songs were written immediately after an exhilarating, outdoor activity. He frequently skied, drove racecars, and flew experimental airplanes.
-You may lack a plan, but you can still get outside and do something stimulating!
Creativity doesn’t automatically happen on command. There are times when creativity is needed, but it’s nowhere to be found. Add these tips to your creativity pool the next time you’re feeling uninspired. If one strategy fails to yield the results you desire, try another. With practice, you can learn to unleash your creativity on demand.