This blog post started out as “morning pages,” as prescribed by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way. She suggests writing 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing each morning, which I have done for years, but seemed to stop during the pandemic, until this week.
I have been without motivation and creative spirit through most of the pandemic, or so I have thought. So often, I have written about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how we must survive before we thrive and how our basic survival needs must be met. During a pandemic, no matter how seriously or consciously we find ourselves focused on the pandemic, no matter how it has touched each of our lives, it is not really possible to be unaffected by it. It is a part of our collective conscience; it is part of our daily work lives; it affects where we can go and who we can be with. It affects our economies, how we shop. Our daily information feed is infused with news about regulations, statistics, science, research, conspiracies, surges, deaths, hospitals … no one is untouched.
During this time, I have been impressed by how some artists, writers, and entertainers have been able to press past the barrage of information, sound bites, inconveniences, hardships, and restrictions to be prolific in their expressions of their art while others of us have lost motivation and fallen silent.
In my own case, I have experienced an inability to focus, which has made it difficult to even act on ideas. In two years, I have made very few paintings and written very little.
Over the course of the pandemic, I have spent time meeting with friends virtually, and have been inspired by the creativity of one friend in particular who runs her own small business. It has served as an example of how one can apply creativity to restructure, reframe, and be flexible to not only survive but also thrive during a pandemic. I have watched her carefully reinvent her product line, her service, her processes, her hours and space, and her staff to meet the changing times, keep herself and her employees safe, and stay profitable during the most challenging of times. I know it has not been easy and I have observed her ups and downs, but she has applied her creative and critical thinking skills to examine what she can do, brainstormed various options, anticipated what changes may be necessary next, and remained connected to her strong network of other entrepreneurs, many of them women. She has kept an air of calmness by meditating regularly. She exemplifies the creative practice about which I have written in the past.
As I reflect on and observe the creativity of my friend, the small business owner, I am able to recognize that I too have had to apply my creativity in a different way during the pandemic. In addition to being a writer and artist, I also teach, and I have had to adapt to changing times and needs. I have especially had to call on my compassion for so many students who are studying to complete degrees in these challenging times while they may have lost jobs, been sick with covid, are working from home, trying to home school kids … all while trying to share a limited number of computers in the household among parents working from home and children attending school online. I have also had to adapt my online and classroom teaching skills and experience to teach mixed mode classes that combine Zoom classes with online work. One might think that it is a matter of doing what you always do online or in the classroom, but using different technology, but we have found that not to be exactly the case and a group of us set up a “support group” for fellow faculty, a quarterly meeting to share our challenges and experience to help each other with the issues that arise teaching during the pandemic.
How are you applying your creativity to cope in this challenging time?
Different times necessitate different creative approaches.
Cameron, J. (1992). The Artists Way, New York: Jeremy Tarcher/Putnam
Maslow, A. (1943). "A Theory of Human Motivation" Psychological Review.
© Dr. Carla Weaver