I have heard from so many fellow artists that they are having trouble creating right now. And, it’s no wonder since every single one of us is under stress unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. At the same time, many of us feel like we should be producing a lot of work because we have a golden opportunity – our calendars are cleared of social engagements, we’re home almost all the time and we could be spending so much time in our studios. When this global pandemic crisis began and we started sheltering-in-place, I was feeling guilty because I was not as productive at my other work as I thought I should be. When we began working remotely, I was excited about it because I usually get so much more done when I’m home, but I was having trouble focusing. Then I read a quote from a public health professor who said that we should remember that we are not just working remotely, but that we are working remotely IN THE MIDST OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. Somehow, I skipped over that part in my mind (and the fact that when I have been really productive working remotely in the past, my kid has been in school all day and not under foot). The same is true with our art. You are not holed away at some artist retreat; you are trying to create in the middle of a global pandemic. If you are managing to produce some work, it’s nothing short of a miracle!
Still, all the indications are that we are likely to be dealing with this for a long time so what can you do to find a little focus and make use of that studio that is beckoning? I wrote a post exactly one year ago about bringing on a creative spring after a slow season that might be of interest, but the three steps I would recommend are:
- Cut yourself some slack. You are trying to create in the middle of a global crisis. Your lack of focus right now or your creative slump are not as a result of some personal failing. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and giving yourself a good talkin’ to won’t help. Instead, give yourself some grace. This too shall pass and your creativity will be there waiting for you when it does.
- Explore something else. We are awash in online content right now. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn or do, it’s probably available on the internet. Tour a museum virtually that you haven’t been able to visit in person. Take a class, especially on something completely unrelated to your art. Creativity thrives on new experiences and let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of those right now, so seek some out.
- Just play. Put your projects away and give yourself a summer break to just play. Color in a coloring book. Tie dye a shirt. Channel your inner camper and make something out of popsicle sticks. Find something creative to do that has nothing to do with what you normally do. It’s okay to play without purpose because that play is actually the best way to foster creativity. Experiment a little and your creative mojo will pop back up when you least expect it.
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