Now a days I find it difficult to sit and write.
Not only because I have become my children's teacher and primary source of entertainment for summer vacation, but because when I wake up in the morning and observe the state of the world I want nothing more than to crawl back under the covers and wait for a better day.
We have talked about the dangers of COVID-19. We have talked about our broken system. We have talked about climate change.
What we rarely talk about is the grief.
The collective trauma we have experienced on a global scale- not as separate nations, but as a species. You can feel it, even if your life has been minimally affected by the pandemic. You might find yourself crying a bit more, and at the slightest provocation. You may even feel angry. Or perhaps you feel nothing; you feel numb or disconnected from it all. This is normal, and you should allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling.
Creative work is emotional work, and if our emotional state is disrupted, it can be difficult to do our job. I have personally noticed that I am struggling to write. And it is not a standard case of writer's block. I have ideas, I know the words I want to put down, I just can't seem to find the motivation to do so. When I sit down to work, one thought pervades my thoughts: "What's the point?"
Art is a reflection of the times, and so whatever your medium of art is (whether it be on a stage, or with a pencil or paintbrush) you may be finding it difficult to create when everything, for lack of a better word, sucks. This is especially debilitating for those who rely on their art as a source of income. Many art industries have shut down during quarantine, which is all the more heartbreaking.
I've put together a short list of helpful tips for my fellow writers and artists who may be struggling to create (and anyone else who may benefit!):
When you begin to feel overwhelmed, close your eyes and take a breath. Exhale slowly, and repeat. It is best to do this in a quiet environment. Take a moment, find a space where you can be alone for at least a few minutes, and breathe.
Drink a glass of water. Have a snack. Did you get enough sleep last night? Try to take a nap. Sometimes your body is trying to tell you that it needs something, but it's having trouble communicating what that something is, especially if your mind is busy worrying about other things. Do a quick check-in to see if you're running low on fuel or rest; it can make all the difference in the world.
3) Get Physical.
Don't feel like you have to jump on an intense workout regime, but try to get your blood moving at least a little bit every day. A 5 minute stretch is better than nothing, and exercise is as important for your body as it is for your mind.
4) Revisit old Favorites.
I've been re-reading some of my favorite books, and I can't tell you how comforting it has been. Maybe it's the nostalgia of better days, or the assurance that I already know how the story ends, or the simple experience of reading a good book- perhaps all of these reasons. As a writer, reading a book is like taking a lesson from a master, and sometimes that's all the inspiration I need to get started. Listen to your favorite song on repeat. Re-watch your favorite musical. Browse through your favorite art collection. The key word here is favorite; something you love, something that stirs your heart and makes you feel whole again.
5) Take a break.
Knowing when to stop and step away is essential. If you have been sitting at your workbench or desk for two hours with nothing to show for it, it's time to take a break. Go for a walk, meditate, watch a show- whatever you prefer. Do not feel obligated to be productive when you are hurting. Be gentle with yourself, and know when it's time to take a break.
6) Switch Projects.
Some of my best writing was done while procrastinating other projects. I wrote two plays during the last few months of my master's thesis (I did end up finishing). If inspiration for another project comes to you, use it. Even if it goes nowhere, it might just be the thing that gives you the momentum you need to return to your work-in-progress. You may even return with some new ideas!
7) Let Yourself Cry.
Brew a cup of tea and curl up under a soft blanket. Call a friend and vent. Listen to sad music. Your feelings are valid- allow yourself to let them out in a healthy way, before they get bottled up and burst out in an unhealthy way.
8) Remember that things will get better.
It will get better. We will get better. The world will get better.
I hope these tips are helpful to you! And I hope from the bottom of my heart, that you are safe and well.