Life in Isolation Part 2 – Creativity in Isolation.

I’ve said it before, art cannot exist in a vacuum but I’m sure, for many of you out there, that’s how you feel right now. Cut-off, quarantined, isolated. That’s not just going to affect your creativity but your mental health so let’s start there.

In my previous blog I talked about ways to maintain social contact as a means to maintain your mental well-being. That’s very important, how can you be creative if you’re stressed or depressed? So many of us have been walking a tightrope of stress for so long, living hand-to-mouth as wages fail to match inflation, struggling to save against emergencies, Politics, Brexit, Family and now… now on top of that we have Covid19. You may or may not realize if you’re succumbing to stress, it can be insidious like that but, aside from being unable to motivate or feeling fatigued you can watch for physical signs. Your skin is a good indicator, anything from breakouts to stress-induced dermatitis or eczema. So, before you put pressure on yourself to create, make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

So, you’re in lock-down and you’re ready to write but your struggling with ‘inspiration’. Again, something I’ve said before, routine trumps inspiration but, you’re routine has likely been interrupted so it’s time to set down a new one. You can read or watch films or books to stir the pot (I’d warn against binging a full series, that way procrastination lies) as long as you are mindful of how much you are being influenced by the works of others. If that fails you use your daily scheduled time to do something that will produce a result. Draw, bake, pick up that musical instrument that’s been sitting in the corner since you bought it, the important part is to encourage that sense of achieving. At this point I’d warn against games, as much as there is narrative and progress and achievement it’s less tangible than, say, baking a cake (and baking is a skill you can take with you anywhere).

I mean, much as it initially sounds hypocritical, the worst thing you can do is to put too much pressure on yourself to write but it’s all about context. If you sit staring at a blank  screen mentally flagellating yourself for not writing then you’ll suffer in the long-run. If you sit, can’t get started and go off and bake some cupcakes and feel a sense of achievement in that then it’s a far healthier outcome that will bring you closer to getting writing again (and now I want cupcakes).

Again, creativity stems from mental wellbeing, and, as much as I can share advice of my own experiences only you can truly say what you need. And it’s important to understand what’s meant by mental wellbeing. You can write when you’re happy, sad, angry, horny,  in every case having emotion to hand makes the writing better. It’s not a case of right  or wrong emotions, it’s about being mentally healthy and having the emotional energy to put into your work. It’s true that, in the past, I’ve spent weeks in my own self-dug creative hole feeling like I could never finish the current WiP, but I did and maybe, with advice like this I would’ve got there sooner. It’s true you shouldn’t pressure yourself to write but you should do something similar, to energize your creativity and give you a boost. I’ve spent far too much time laid out on a sofa in my robe to let you do the same.

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