Last month, I wrote about the chronic stress that we have all been under because of the pandemic and the creativity killer this has been for so many of us. This month, I have a solution to recommend. I read in the New York Times Sunday Review and editorial entitled “We Need to Process What We’ve Lost” (June 27, 2021) In it, Emily Esfahani Smith writes, “But if we want to emerge from the crisis whole instead of broken, we need to process what we’ve lost. Rather than bulldoze past our grief straight into the delights of summer, we should take the time to work through it.” Good advice and thankfully, she includes some instructions. In 30 years of research by Dr. James Pennebaker and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin, they have shown that writing about upsetting experiences for 15 minutes a day for three to four days is healing because the act of writing allowed study participants to make sense of what happened to them, to define a new narrative for the story of their lives, and to take control of it.
I haven’t done much to process COVID, I think because I don’t feel like I deserve to. I’m white, privileged, and extremely fortunate when it comes to the pandemic. My grief resulting from the past year and a half is minuscule compared to others. But denying the impact doesn’t lessen anyone else’s suffering and it isn’t helping me either. I am about to go away for four days on an art retreat, which seems like the perfect opportunity to write each day about my experience with COVID as a way to process it. So, it is my plan to spend 15 minutes on each of four days writing and then 15 minutes on the fifth day sketching, brainstorming, or designing some new work and I hope that will be the magic elixir I need to pull me from my creativity slump. Why not try it for yourself? I am eager to see how it works for me and equally as eager to hear how it goes for you.
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