Usually, I have energy abound for my work and a passion for even the smallest things in life. However, in these strange times, I’ve sometimes felt dog-tired for no particular reason; long since forgotten aches and pains have crept back, slyly whispering ‘go to bed’ and my once deadline-driven concentration seems to wander and ponder eventually landing on the thought …cake.
Many of my creative colleagues including those shy writers who usually relish working within their own imagination, also report an alarming lacklustre for what they would usually do joyfully.
Reflecting on these rolling, raging weeks, I think that, in these abnormal times, being off kilter is perfectly normal. Many of us have lost at least some external energy to create – no motivating deadlines, no live-audience thrill, no post-performance banter and no idea how long before we can reclaim the life that we love. Wonder gone - no wonder we feel flat.
While acknowledging that this tempest is particularly difficult to endure, I’ve been working on some ways to re-engage my creative self and regain the magic. Here are some ideas that may help you too:
To avoid the blues, I now start the day by looking for an inspiring tune - either an old favourite that I know will fillip my spirits like a vodka shot or, a newbie, to jump-start my enthusiasm. This daily sojourn down memory lane or to pastures new reminds me that, while my physical horizon may be pretty static now, I can still expand my mental horizons. And, starting the day on a good note (couldn’t resist the pun) gets me thinking: “What next?” and makes me feel much more positive.
Whether we’re still working or our work has evaporated overnight, most of us want or need to be productive in some shape or form. But, when days roll into one and there are troubles abound, it can be difficult to maintain focus. Therefore, I find it even more important to plan work activities and concentrate on what I can do rather than dwell on what I’m missing out on.
If you’re struggling to get motivated, start off by setting yourself one or two goals each day. If you don’t want to do anymore than this, that’s fine - you can enjoy the rest of the day, guilt-free, knowing that you’ve achieved what you set out to. However, you may well find that one thing leads to another, and before you know it, you’re back in the creative flow.
I’m also planning at least one enjoyable activity per day to avoid an endless haze of work and chores. While I’ve lost some clients (how careless), I’m keenly aware that I’m lucky to be able to continue to work from home. However, I find that a huge leap to online work saps my energy. Also, because we can’t go out to socialise, it’s more difficult to shake off stress.
Therefore, I now systematically plan something that I take pleasure in - as if it were a work priority. And, while I love binge-watching a box set, I’m trying to find things that aren’t screen-orientated. However, whatever you do, downtime that doesn’t lead to feeling down is the aim.
While I’m over the first wave of lockdown shock, I still recoil in disbelief at how much our lives have changed and how awful the situation is for so many. It’s the groundhog-day mental equivalent of running into an invisible brick wall: “How did that happen…?”
Rather than go over and over the horror in my mind, I’m now taking a different approach to this enforced change: as much as we didn’t want it to happen, we have to cope with it somehow.
To do this, I’m trying to think what ‘best of times’ could come from the ‘worst of times’. What creative opportunities are available now while I wait for this tale to unfold? What could the future look like? What can I do now to work towards that future, uncertain though it may be?
This is one big storm and it’s easy to disappear down a wormhole of anxiety when weighing up what might happen as a result. However, I’m now making a concerted effort to stop myself catastrophising because it leads to unnecessary stress about things that haven’t happened yet. Yes, we're already seeing the Covid fallout and there'll be more to come but survival is the most important first step from whence we can re-gather, re-group and re-create the new normal: “Modo liceat vivere, est spes” (While there’s life, there’s hope), Playwright Publius Terentius After (died 159 B. C.).
Catch up with our lockdown series of webinar recordings at www.feutraining.org:
- Finding a balance, while staying at home
- Controlling freelance finance in uncertain times
- Cash flow planning through crisis and beyond
- Good time to blog
- Make more impact with social media
We’re continuing to develop our online programme for the foreseeable future with a range of workshops and webinars, so please look out for updates.