Sandra Tayler is a writer of essays, picture books, speculative fiction, and blog entries. She is also the editor, publisher, and business manager for the Schlock Mercenary comic strip. She is the lead Operational Support staff member of the Writing Excuses Retreat team.
Managing to be Creative in the Midst of Upheaval
The world has shifted in the past six months, unsettling nearly everyone. Creatives everywhere are struggling to find the mental and emotional space that is necessary to create. The truth is that we’re all grieving these days. Not just a single loss, but a multitude of losses both big and small. We grieve for the conventions we can’t attend, and the haircut we wish we could get. We grieve for events canceled and visits that are only online. We grieve for the separation from loved ones and separation from the lives we used to have. We grieve the future which has diverted from what we expected and is shrouded in a fog of uncertainty.
In my presentation Structuring Life to Support Creativity (which I’ll teach at SIWC) I have a section where I talk about creative processes. Any creative process you have will impact any other creative process. Raising children is hugely creative work, which is why it can wreak havoc on other creative pursuits. A day job which requires creative effort will make maintaining a creative avocation more difficult. Grief is a creative process. It is the means by which we adapt and change ourselves and our lives. It deconstructs what we used to have and gives us pieces to create ourselves anew. The larger the grief, the more transformed we must become in order to pass through it.
Unfortunately we can’t just decide to move through grief quickly or efficiently. Instead we have to be open to the feeling of it. We have to cry and rage and despair. Or hide and heal. We have to let it permeate who we are and slop over into places we’re not sure it belongs. In this process the grief becomes part of the fabric of who we are. It strengthens our core and changes how we move forward in the world. The good news is that recognizing grief as a creative process helps us let go of the guilt and anxiety over the creative work we intended to do, but which got superseded by processing how to live in a changed world. It is okay that your project lays idle for a time. It is also okay if you have responded to the changes with a burst of effort into your projects.
Trust that your innate creative heart will not abandon you while you deal with other things. It waits for you to clear enough space for it to open up again.
Exactly how to open that space depends much on the shape of your life, your personal inclinations, and how you relate to your creativity. That is a longer exploration than this 500 word blog post can cover. But there is a way forward and you can find it.