Committing to create no matter what is not about pushing yourself through the hard times, it’s not about rigidity, nor an obsession with productivity at all costs.
It’s about recognising and understanding what happens to us as humans when we create – and when we don’t create.
It’s about creative ex-pression as a counterweight to depression.
It’s about creative work as a tool for meaning-making and path-finding. It’s about creativity as connection – to our inner wisdom as well as to others.
When the world is chaotic or your everyday life is being disrupted for some reason, creating a structure to your days can help you feel rooted, safe and able to focus on something other than the chaos – like your creative work.
Humans naturally seek structure, we are cyclical beings and tend to eat, sleep and work in repeating rhythms. These rhythms help us move through our days and get things done without having to exert unnecessary energy thinking every single step of it through. But when something disrupts our habitual rhythms, we lose that natural momentum and we often need to help ourselves re-establish the old rhythm or, if the old one isn’t working anymore, create a new one.
For most of us, this is very noticeable when it comes to our creative work.
Something disrupts our normal rhythm, our planning goes out the window and we struggle to find our way back to the work. We then blame ourselves for our lack of character or willpower, but really, it mostly comes down to a lack of structure.
Even if your whole life seems to be in flux right now, you can create a simple, flexible routine that allows you to stay connected to your work. You can do this even if things are messy and unpredictable. Think of it as creating a standing date with your work. Like the phone dates with your friends, or the daily text you send your grandma. You do it to stay connected, even if you can’t actually meet each other right now.
What we’re looking for is a simple, repeatable rhythm.
Something that works really well is to attach a new habit onto an already existing habit. Like waking up, or going to sleep. We still do that, right? Even in the midst of a global pandemic.
So journaling 10 minutes before you get out of bed every morning, or before you fall asleep every night, could be a way to start.
Even if you can’t actually find the time or space to do your work, if your work for instance requires a studio or special equipment and you need to stay home right now, you could still journal about your work, scribble ideas, sketch a bit, express your frustrations and your dreams. That way you keep the connection alive and your channels of expression open until you have more space and time again.
This is not just a way to stay creative, it’s a way to exercise active hope – confirming to yourself that there WILL come a time when life is saner and you have more time and space again.
And in the mean time, your creative soul needs nourishment, the relationship to your work needs tending to. So, what simple rhythm could you establish right now that would help you stay in touch with or get back to your creative work?
The keyword is simple. If you’ve gotten out of rhythm, you need to keep the first few steps back into your work simple, or you’ll resist taking those steps. Start small. One little step you could take today. What would it be?