Creativity in Crisis: Abandoned by your Muse

Guest Post from Roth Heisner

It’s been nearly a year since life, as we knew it, changed drastically. From the onset of a global pandemic to social unrest, topped off with a stormy political season, it feels as though the crisis level never went down. Many have found themselves working from home, or not at all, as unemployment surged. Suddenly many creatives found themselves with something they had always wanted but never seemed to have enough of before: time. People settled into long-term lockdowns and new home offices and turned their eyes to all the things they wanted to do but never had time for, only to find their creativity seemed to have abandoned them. I am one of those creatives, and I would like to share what I learned about loss, uncertainty, and creativity in unprecedented times.

Shifting Away from Silver Linings and into Small Actions

After realizing that my small independent contractor business wasn’t going to survive the pandemic lockdown, I immediately jumped to a ‘silver lining’ frame of mind. I told myself that I had all the time I always needed to draft story ideas, develop characters, and render art that had languished untouched. What I immediately found was that my muse had gone. No matter how often I sat down to work on ideas, there just wasn’t any inspiration for the creative projects that I had longed to do. My creativity had died in the mire of uncertainty and a feeling of being lost. I no longer had the schedules, clients, or social engagements to keep me going.

The ‘death’ of life as I had known it had changed everything, and I didn’t have a direction to go. I found myself wrestling with the loss for months, piling guilt on top of it to no resolution until I made the firm decision that just because I couldn’t do what I thought I should be doing with my time, I could still be doing something. Something is always better than nothing. If I couldn’t unblock my mind, I could unclutter my environment. I started a project to organize my home.

Clearing the Clutter and Renewing the Spirit

It seemed like such a practical and uninspiring thing to do, but what I found was that the more I did it, the lighter I felt inside. My space was opening, and along with it, my mind. I found notes, drawings, and letters that reconnected me to events of my past. I found myself mentally skipping through places of my youth and calling old friends. By the time I had finished, months later, I not only had a clean, organized home, but I also had a renewed spirit and a well of revisited experiences to draw from creatively.

I’m confident I’m not the only creative person to have found themselves lost in this drastically changed world. To those who have also wondered where their inspiration has gone just as they found themselves with the time, I’d just like to say; don’t underestimate the loss you’ve endured. Surely as our lifestyles have been locked down and reigned in, so have our spirits. Be kind to yourself. Understand that these unprecedented times affect us emotionally. Divert your attention from the projects you feel you ‘should’ be doing and try something different. It doesn’t have to be cleaning your space, it could be trying a new creative medium, a new hobby or activity, or reading more instead of writing.

Let the well replenish and you’ll find yourself with renewed vigor, a new perspective, and undoubtedly some new creative ideas too!

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