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Overcoming Creative Inertia in a Pandemic


Have you seen the posts about Issac Newton developing calculus in quarantine and Shakespeare writing King Lear? Or maybe you've seen this one:

If you don’t come out of this quarantine with either: 
1.) a new skill 
2.) starting what you’ve been putting off like a new business 
3.) more knowledge 
You didn’t ever lack the time, you lacked the discipline.

Did either of them actually fire up your motivation? If they did, that's awesome, and I'm sincerely happy for you. 

For the rest of us who spent each day wondering what happened to our creativity, our motivation, our passion for the projects we were working on, I'd like to share the following posts by @alexisrockley,  a psychology-certified coach on Twitter:


I don't personally know her, but her message was exactly what I needed to hear to take that first step to overcoming this unwelcome inertia. I'm sharing it in hopes that it may help you, as well.

As I'm sure is true with most of you, I had big hopes for 2020. It wasn't just a new year, it was the start of a new decade which, for some reason, seemed all the more exciting to me.

I joined a Mastermind group of artists in January and we spent the first few weeks working on setting our goals, learning new strategies, and developing our plans of action. We were determined to make this our year to focus on growing our businesses and expanding into new markets.

With my daughter working crazy hours on the Spring musical at her high school, my schedule was a bit more hectic than usual, but for Spring Break she was going on a class trip to London, and I was looking forward that time as a chance to put the final touches on a commissioned piece along with some paintings due for a gallery show in April. My son came home from college for his Spring Break, the week prior to ours, and that week we felt some of the ripples of the pandemic as my daughter's trip was cancelled and my son was told to remain home a couple of weeks before returning to campus. Then we all stepped into the Twilight Zone together mid-March, appropriately on a Friday the 13th, and life as we knew it came to a screeching halt.

In addition to my kids transitioning to online classes the rest of the semester and my day job shifting to telecommuting, my desire to do anything creative had simply vanished. Any time outside of work hours was spent checking the pandemic statistics on the world tracker, scrolling mindlessly through social media, or escaping into a book. (Oh, and cooking and doing dishes...SO many dishes!)

While this may not sound so bad, painting is my happy place - it puts me at ease when I'm stressed or overwhelmed. So, when I absolutely needed to paint the most, my will to do so disappeared and, outside of coronavirus news, my social media feed was filled with all the great things you should be accomplishing with all this extra time. I'd walk into my home studio and sit among the paintings that were in various stages, hoping for inspiration, but it just compounded my stress and I felt myself sliding further along a downward spiral.

So then I'd get back to mindless scrolling, where I also came across posts of "It's okay to not be okay," and I gave them a thumbs up or a heart. But the tweets by Alexis Rockley finally helped me realize that my creativity wasn't gone, it had just been shifted down my brain's priority list. Something about that realization helped me move it back to the top of that list, and at the perfect time, too. Even though my April gallery show was cancelled, I do still have a deadline for another painting for a museum collection due in May (more about that in my upcoming post next Sunday).

If you're in stuck in the same place of creative inertia I was a couple of weeks ago, I hope this post helps in some way. I can't guarantee the tweets will have the same effect on you, but maybe knowing creativity is just on "pause" will help you push "play" again. If not, that's okay, too - just know you are not going through it alone.

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