I’ve always known that my creative process requires a firm structure. This has been one of the irrefutable laws of my life, in fact. My best, most fruitful work is accomplished in highly structured bursts that follow a nearly circadian rhythm. Distractions are the enemy, an enemy that is often overwhelmingly effective as sights or sounds send my mind spiraling down paths unexplored. Standing beside the distractions we find obligations, another dreaded foe. Strangely, it is not so much that I mind being obligated, but rather that my obligations often don’t leave me enough of the time necessary for my structure to work. One would think, then, that in this time when there are fewer distractions, a more tightly ordered daily life, and a schedule clear of many of the obligations that I typically carry, I would find myself in a creatively positive position.
Sadly, this is not the case.
Instead, I find my days gripped with a vague haze that blankets everything around me. A sense of surrealism, as if I will suddenly jerk awake and find that the world that I’ve struggled to make the new normal is little more than a dark echo, the lingering effect of a bad dream. Sadly, no matter how I pinch, the difficult reality that we face remains. And it doesn’t seem to be getting better. More confusing? Sure. But not better. I am unbelievably fortunate to live in a safe and stable environment, where I have the privilege of practicing social distancing yet I still find myself unable to shake my general ennui. In many ways, my creative process is the part of my life most affected by the changes in our world. Though both time and structure are abundant, my motivation is strangely lacking.
What then, to do?
I have been reading a fair amount about the importance of pausing in moments like these to allow ourselves to adjust to our new normal. Regardless of where you stand on current events we can all agree that a layer of stress has been added to us and we don’t really know how to handle it. Recognizing the changes and their effects on us is an important first step to salvaging our creative lives.
So, I wrote a list of some practical ways to help us recover our creative drive.
Slow down before you speed up
Taking ten minutes to sit quietly and clear your head before you begin your creative work is a good way to keep yourself on task. Taking a few moments to breathe, without trying to fill your time up with distractions will help make space for creativity.
Remember why you are creating
As you take time to prepare yourself, focus on why you are creating in the first place. You can boost your focus by clarifying your motivation internally. Repeat it to yourself. Then repeat it again. It can be as simple as, ‘I want to create something funny’ or ‘I am going to express how I feel’.
Recognize the change
At the end of the day, we need to recognize that ‘life as normal’ is different than it was two months ago. And the chances that it will ever go back to what it was are nill. It may some day approach something similar, but it will never be what it was. While it can be tempting to hold on to what we loved about life before the crazy started, that will only ever suck our attention and energy away, preventing us from forging ahead.
Let me leave you with a question.
How are you handling this stifling time? I’m always looking to add to my list, so if you have any advice, please let me know!
Stay tuned for more writing from the WorldCraft Club as we explore worldbuilding and the crafting of fictional settings to inspire your creativity.
We’re happy to host guest blogs on here whenever we can, it gives James a break and let’s other people contribute their ideas. Let us know if you have a worldbuilding concept or strategy to get off your chest, we’d love to hear it.