I'm sitting at home (of course, we all are) in what I believe is week 5 of our self isolation and #stayathome trend to help flatten the COVID-19 curve. I find it so interesting that one day I'll re-read this post or someone will stumble upon my blog and this will be sitting here for posterity.
Like so many others, this entire process has been an ocean of change. Like the tides, we ebb and flow--- one day I feel invincible and strike everything off my to do list. From work admin and content creation to practicing my guitar and studying French on the Duolingo App. Others, I am in a fog. Bleary eyed, and hunched over, the weight of the entire world literally resting on my shoulders.
When the global shut downs started, more and more entrepreneurs and influencers were calling for us to "use this time to write that book!" "Make that art!" "Do the things you've always wanted to do but never had time for!"
To be honest, I was angry. Here I am usually managing through my days with an underlying anxiety that I am not allotting enough time to my own creative endeavours. I'm not writing enough of my second novel, or querying more agents for my first novel. Or researching how to self-publish. Or finishing up my assignments for my Editing Degree (because why not have 15 projects on the go?). This, on top of juggling clients and doing work that actually gets me paid.
Now here we are, trying to keep our heads above the water during a global pandemic---people are dying, healthcare workers are literally facing death on a daily basis, jobs are being lost, airlines are grounded, borders are closed and even attempting the grocery store to get the essentials is giving me palpitations. Then you expect me to sit down and tackle all of those creative projects that I've been mentally drained of doing in normal times, right now?
So no, I call bullshit and you should too. This is a time of survival and while it may not feel like we are at the front lines of a war and we are able to stay in the comfort of our homes (while not the case for many others), with food, booze, Netflix, Wi-Fi and time outside unlike other countries, we are still dealing with the onslaught of news and media updates. Our social channels we used to use an escape have become a constant reminder of this global crisis. If you don't want to "take advantage of this time" you don't have to. Maybe you have kids at home and you and your partner are trying to adjust to working from home, and now being the sole educators in your children's lives. Maybe you struggle with depression or anxiety. Maybe you draw a lot of your own mental health on being out in the world surrounded by people. Maybe you're single and live alone without the possibility to visit friends and family.
Maybe just waking up, showering and eating well is enough today. Maybe tomorrow you stay in yoga pants and drink wine at 1pm. Never has the expression, "you do you" resonated more with me right now. So while some days I tick some items off, and yes, even get some writing done, I'm over the rule or pressure that during this current climate of a global pandemic is somehow supposed to equate to MORE productivity and creativity.
I'm over the rule or pressure that during this current climate of a global pandemic is somehow supposed to equate to MORE productivity and creativity.
I'd like to leave you with one of my favourite quotes when dealing with highly emotional times: "Focus on the light" which is loosely taken from an Aristotle quote. And how about you, dear reader? How are you holding up throughout these days of social distancing and self-isolation?
I'm sitting here at a local coffee shop, the sunlight streaming through the windows, full cup of hot coffee beside me and waiting for that "spark". You know the spark I'm talking about right? That one that apparently happens to the brilliant minds around us when they're in creativity mode, their next masterpiece right around the corner.
I finally got out of the house after a short week (Monday was a holiday here), had work piling up around me, working into the evenings most days and little life admin tasks popping up. I threw my laptop in a bag, drove to the cafe with resolution to just write. But here I am an hour later looking at a meager 450 words on the screen. And it's not for lack of ideas. I actually have a good idea of where I want the next stage of this novel to go but I am just feeling so stuck lately.
Can anyone relate? I'm trying my hardest to blame it on anything possible: oh, it's just winter, feeling long and tiring and zapping my creativity; I have too many other jobs on the go (you know, the ones that actually keep my lights on); I just need to look up this one thing (two hours later I've fallen down a rabbit hole and seem to be trying to find out whatever happened to that Red Power Ranger); oh it's time for a snack, and a healthy cookie would be great, but I don't have any on hand so I better dig out the mixing bowl and get cracking on those.
I've been doing a lot of work with The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron lately and from my own googling (read: procrastinating) I know a lot of this lack of "motivation" or "creativity" comes from doing anything BUT what you should be. Are you a painter? Then just pop up that easel and get some paint on the canvas. Writer like me? You just need to plonk your bottom on the seat and start writing. It can absolutely be rubbish (and on those days where I am really fighting that dedication, it often is junk) but the habit is there. Growing a teeny tiny bit every time I fight the urge to fall down an Instagram hole or hit some interesting click bait on Facebook (ya, why won't they hire Brendan Fraser anymore?!).
I'd love to hear how you find that spark you need to get started. Is it being in a certain room that "means business" or going to your favourite spot in a local cafe?
And if it isn't obvious already, I need your tips because of course, this blog post has also become a way to procrastinate (shh, don't tell anyone).
Some of the books I look to for inspiration when I find my personal motivation lacking