The COVID-19 crisis has brought the world to a screeching halt. Life, as we knew it, is now a thing of the past, something we can only yearn for.
The lockdown has affected all of us uniquely. Something that I have found myself struggling with in this pandemic is creating — whether it be words or a meal.
Getting creative blocks is real. Not just me, but most people out there suffer from them. Here are the things I do to get out of my creative slump and so can you:
1. Use ‘Stability Rocks’ To Anchor Your Day
I know the dreamy and artsy type creators, like Einstein and Austen, who have a reputation for having out of place routines. But it’s one of those things that only works a few times. Sure, you can’t have a designated time for innovation to pop up. But you can automate the other decisions you make throughout your day to spare your energy to work on creative pursuits.
By routine, I do not mean that every minute of your calendar should be jam-packed with the details of what you’re going to do. I just mean a general structure around the clock that helps you navigate your day effectively. You can try things such as:
- Waking up and sleeping at the same time every day,
- Logging off from work at a designated time,
- Having your meals around the same hour range,
- And having a designated workspace.
Such ‘stability rocks’ keep me grounded. They also help me save a ton of energy — which I can then converge towards creation. And I’m not alone.
In his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey mentions how many artists such as Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and Graham Greene, were famous for having a designated workplace with minimal distractions. Even Hemingway tracked how many words he wrote every day.
If you’re a fan of geniuses such as Einstein and Austen, well, they also designated a specific time and workspace for their days. Austen even separated her busy work (responding to letters) from her real work (writing).
If you find it too methodical, then create a flexible routine. Shreya Dalela, a writer, dancer, and founder of The Creatives Hour, tries to pursue about six Pomodoros every day. Here’s how she goes about it:
“On days when creation gets difficult, I just try to get a couple of 25-minute Pomodoros done with a Tomato-timer. Anything more you achieve in the day is a BONUS. But more often than not once I get the foot in the door, doing six Pomodoros suddenly seems possible. And that’s how I get a couple of hours of work done — bit by bit. ”
Couldn’t you use some comforting amidst all the changes around us right now?
Note: For those unaware of the Pomodoro technique, here’s a quick definition from Pick The Brain author, Vishal Ostwal – “The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method technique which uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.”
2. Build ‘Streaks’ Of Self-Care
Even at the risk of sounding all mushy-gushy, I want to urge you to take care of yourself. Gentle reminder: these aren’t normal times. The days could be tiring. They can take a toll. So you deserve extra compassion, especially from yourself.
Guess what? Even if you’re in quarantine right now, you can practice self-care at home. It is easy to neglect yourself when the days get busy and the work keeps piling up. But that is when you need to steal some time to treat yourself the most.
No one else will make your self-care their priority, so you need to do it for yourself. Create healthy boundaries that allow you space and time to create. To meditate. To read. To go for a walk. Or even just to watch the sunrise with a cup of joe (or whatever floats your boat).
At the same time, don’t excuse habitual procrastination — it’s not an act of self-love. Netflix binging is fine on some days, but you’ll occasionally need to sit with a blank page. If you persist, the words will flow soon enough.
Listen to your body and give it the kind of self-care it’s craving right now. As an extension of the first point, inculcate some time for it in your routine. Maybe use an app like Strides to keep track of a self-care practice such as journaling, practicing gratitude, or the like — your creative self will thank you for it!
3. Explore New Creation Frameworks
I had been stuck in a rut for months. I had established a writing routine where I sat at my desk and my page stared at me until I filled it with something uninspiring. This went on for weeks until I realized I’d had enough.
I needed something that could aid me to get my creative juices flowing. I began with freewriting. Then, one-liner poetry. With the change of process, suddenly, I had more ideas.
The different styles gave my writing more room to expand into topics that I hadn’t thought of writing about before. It felt new and electric.
Before I knew it, the page was filled, my mind was rushing with adrenaline and endorphins, and I had a whole bucket list of things I wanted to try in my writing process. It was just a matter of realizing that I can refresh my creative process.
No matter what you create — whether it’s a pitch for your customers or a painting for your heart — trying something you have never done before has undeniable benefits.
What helped me to get past the friction was being open-minded about trying and adapting new frameworks. I read authors I didn’t like. When I began with one-liner poetries, the process seemed counter-intuitive. How can I get more writing done if I just have to write one line? How will I even improve as a creator with this process that limits the quantity?
But, boy o boy, was I wrong. The process was so much more challenging than I thought. And writing? I got more done in terms of quality than quantity. Since it was just one line, my ideas became structured and refined to comply. With each passing day, the empty page became less daunting.
Now it’s your turn. What’s keeping you on track to practice your creative pursuits right now? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.
Rochi is a staff writer at Elite Content Marketer, a closet poet, and a full-time F.R.I.E.N.D.S. enthusiast. Check out her website RochiZalani.com and subscribe to her newsletter if you relish poetry.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.