Creative Motivation in the Time of a Pandemic

I know there are some creatives out there who are seriously taking advantage of this pandemic downtime. I see it happening. One just has to glance in Taylor Swift’s direction to see an example of this. She’s been on fire creatively…taking advantage, it would seem, of every second of her pandemic downtime.

But not all creatives are created equally. Some take the lemon they are given and make glorious refreshing thirst-quenching lemonade. Others, they look at a lemon and think, ‘Now, what the hell am I going to do with a nasty old lemon!? Those things are disgusting!’

Though I’m not always a negative Nelly, rest assured that I’m side-eyeing my lemon with hatred and disgust. This particular creative is struggling to put a sentence together.

I recall at the beginning of the pandemic that there were memes going around about Shakespeare. They were–I THINK–meant to bolster creatives. I immediately recognized it as a bad take, though. It was an insult to all of us and I’m ashamed that I may have even been one of the ones who shared it in the moment.

I believe Rosanne Cash was one of the first ones who perpetuated this bad take meme. Sittin’ up there on her hill, just spittin’ out takes willy-nilly.

Soon, the Shaky Pear’s face was everywhere…with any number of quotes and explanations as to how wonderfully he dealt with his plague lemons.

If you were furiously creating when this meme first strolled by you, you probably thought, “YES! Damn right!”

But…if you were one of the ones truly struggling to get words on paper, paint on a canvas, vocals on tracks, musical notes recorded, yarn on a needle, or any of the other million ways creatives choose to express their creativity, this take would have come as a hot slap across your face. A face that was already burning from the frustration of not connecting with your particular mode(s) of creativity.

We are now more than a year into this thing. As the world is PAUSED, creatives are either creating, struggling to create, taking a break from creating, or screaming into a deep void that appears to be both endless and unforgiving. It’s a struggle.

Stop comparing yourself to Shakespeare. Stop beating yourself up if you feel your pace isn’t enough. Creativity will happen, come what may. If you have to take a break, do so. There’s no scorecard. We’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. You’re doing your best. You’re getting through.

We (creatives and humans in general) are our own harshest judges. We see what others are accomplishing and we beat ourselves up over the fact that we’re not keeping up. Now is not the time for that. Good for Shakespeare for creating during the plague. That’s awesome. Really. Commendable. But there were some other great creatives in his day, I’m sure, who took a breather during the fear and uncertainty of the times.

Be you. Create when you can, not when you’re feeling pressured to do so. Define your own timeline of creativity and be kind to yourself during the down times. This is a big worldwide event. Yes, a poem will uplift the world. But so will serenity in a time of strife. If you’re not the poet this time around…be the reader. Take comfort in the creations of others.

Stay safe.

From one creative to another, sending love and light…

By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright

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