You don't have to be creative
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 wrote about the value in creating a routine while working from home last year, but it's important you are always re-evaluating to see what works for you right now. So as the nights begin to draw in over here in Canada, the shortened days can make it a little tricky to settle into a routine. And being a full-time freelancer for over two and a half years now, my "regular" routine has gone through a few changes. For all of you other creatives living that #freelancelife I wanted to share some of the activities and goals I try to work into my days that offer up the most productivity, while also keeping me sane! I'd love to hear some of yours too!
1. Morning walk with the hound first thing in the morning. Some days I'll load up an audiobook I've borrowed through the Ottawa Public Library, or (as is often the case) have a Spotify playlist loaded with the best Christmas tunes. Other days, I love to go out without any ear plugs, and listening to the sound of my neighbourhood. Luckily it's quite quiet so I can enjoy and embrace whatever the weather, knowing Kingsley and I are getting a nice dose of exercise and Vitamin D first thing in the morning. Plus, it makes it easier to concentrate without his incessant "when are we going for a walk??" whine from beside my desk.
2. Unroll my mat and get some yoga in. This one has gone through a few changes over the months. I used to have to do it first thing to feel like my day was starting off on the right foot. If I have a pass to a local studio, I'll work it into my day in whatever way suited. If I'm joining the always lovely Tina at Yoga Attic, I'll make her 9 am class to really connect with nature, like minded people and start my day off right! Or, when I had a pass to local Yogatown, I'd actually try and make the 12 o'clock flow class as a way to break up my day and give me a mini reset before the afternoon. What I'm digging right now? Post-walk yoga (Boho Beautiful is my go to link for all the vibes!) in the comfort of my home, surrounded by mellow tunes and my twinkling Christmas lights
I can enjoy and embrace whatever the weather, knowing Kingsley and I are getting a nice dose of exercise and Vitamin D first thing in the morning."
Enjoying an oat milk latte at one of my favourite local coffee shops
3. Indulge in excellent warm drinks. You know by now I'm a little addicted to coffee - decaf, half-caff, full dark and bold - like it all! I invested in a pretty nice espresso machine a couple of years ago and it has been an absolute life saver for me. After that morning yoga, I'll go make a second cup of coffee (first cup of the day is always big and black...nothing fancy!). But this second cup, I'll froth up some nice dairy free milk (new addiction is oat milk - it foams up way better than any other dairy free milk I've had) and make a fancy little latte. This is what I'll take to my office and get the ball rolling for the day. Post lunch? It's time for a hot cup of green tea with fresh lemon.
4. Lists, lists and more lists. On the podcast I host with my sister, Life As We Try It, we recently took some personality quizzes, and it was no surprise we both thrive on writing lists and ticking them off. When you're juggling various clients, while also working for yourself, it can be hard to keep track of everything. Lists help me stay on top of it all, while also giving me that little jolt of serotonin when I smugly tick off another item, no matter how small.
5. Get out and spend time with humans. While it is excellent to be able to work from the comfort of my home, sometimes you just need to be around other humans and the hum of the real world. I find I get invigorated in a different way when I'm sitting in a local coffee shop trying to get some work done. It's excellent for letting my creative side out a little bit. When I'm out, I get to bounce energy off of other people, gain inspiration from new surroundings and not get called into non-work related things (anything from "the dishes need to be done", to "there's nothing to snack on, let's bake some fresh cookies!" are all excellent distractors sometimes.
6. When working late, wine is always a good idea. When I was in the final push to finish my first novel, A Week at the Woods', I found a glass of red wine was very helpful in those final late night pushes! Never very much as this can often lead to a drastic decline in productivity, but whether I'm editing copy, writing, or working through a social media marketing plan, sometimes you just need a glass of wine at the end of a long day, and while living that #freelancelife we all know there is no 9-5!
I hope you have found these ideas helpful and would love to hear how you create a routine while working from home too!
Happy New Year!
I wanted to wish a very happy 2019 to you all and let you know that yes, I am still here! This blog part of my website has always been close to my heart, but sadly it is often the first thing to fall to the wayside when the days and weeks start to get busy!
But I wanted to sign on today to let you know, that moving forward, one of my goals is a weekly blog post for 2019! I don't love public vows for new year's resolutions (for the obvious fact that majority of them end up being a bust which leads me to not updating on them, which leads to less blog posts, which leads to where we are right now!).
I'm going to be honest - 2018 was a bit of a tough one as well. I moved back to Canada at the end of 2017 after almost a decade in London UK. The adjustment to a slower life out in the country has been a little trying at times. It's temporary and we're looking to move this spring (yay adulting!) but throw in a relationship (with a foreigner I uprooted to come with me!), friendships old and new, family commitments, career growth and a puppy (freaking adorable puppy but still) made this year one of the most trying in a long time. I found I let things pile up on me more than I have in the past - my motivation and drive to work on myself took a nosedive in the latter half of the year.
2018 was also the first year I worked full time start to finish for myself as a freelancer. The freedom it provides is obviously the top attraction for many people - no sole boss, no stuffy office, no annoying team building days. But it can also be very isolating and taxing. There is no "off" time when you work for yourself. I find I constantly blur the lines between "working day" and "off the clock". These are constantly shifting. Work is also usually a constant on vacation which makes it hard to switch my brain off. Setting boundaries is something I'm working on to make sure I'm giving 100% of myself (and still have 100% to give).
Now I'm going into 2019 a little more organized and aware of what this process entails. It's scary but it's also exciting! Along with continuing to work in the luxury yachting world as a marketer and freelance writer, I'm proud to include two new clients in my portfolio for the future - both are part of the local community in different fields, and that was a wee goal of mine for 2018 - grow that sense of community that I found lacking in a big city like London.
And I'm not writing today to say that the clock changed to 12:01 on January 1 and suddenly my perspective shifted. I'm saying it's ok to not have all the plans work out; it's ok to not have 10 resolutions to become the best you; it's ok to have them and not reach them too. Because of this overload, I didn't even have a bright idea of what I wanted to accomplish or create in my 2019 until halfway through the Christmas break when I locked myself in my office and wrote a few things down. I always have plenty of little goals flitting around my head - I have become that person that normally has three or four different books on the go - but I wanted them to be tangible and smart about how I wanted my year to unfold.
So with a new year beginning with new promises for the year ahead, I thought I'd share just a few of the items I jotted down (perhaps these are the ones I'm most sure about but who can say!)
How about you? Have you set any goals for 2019?
*Not forgetting to show gratitude for all the amazing things that also happened in 2018, a small highlight reel: