We already know that this quarantine is testing us in infinite ways, and creativity is more present than ever. We spend every day trying to endure the uncertainty of what will bring the next chapter of our lives, and creativity has been one of the most reliable companies, so far.
During lockdown, we have to keep the ball rolling—What else are we supposed to do?—, and a lot of us are using this current situation as a way of finding inspiration in the simplest things.
For instance, my sister is studying photography, and she is taking part in a contest. The task is to take a photograph that tests your imagination during the lock-down, with the idea of perceiving something extraordinary in the ordinary. She walks around the house searching for the best angle, while occasionally going to the garden to get some fresh air and clear her thoughts.
After uncountable tryouts—and a lot of pictures in her camera—she comes to me, with a sigh of misery and says:
‘I think this lock-down has killed all the creativity I had left’.
Though I believe that a good artist can work miracles—Or, as my dad would say: ‘Sacar agua de las piedras’ (to draw water from the stones)—they struggle till they get where they want to be. However, in order to become a good artist, you have to stimulate your inner creative self. As I was listening to her, I remembered the words of Julia Cameron—the author of ‘The Artist’s Way’: “Creativity requires activity“.
The lockdown can’t kill your creativity. Keeping the creative flame alive is up to you. It all depends on how you use your time, resources, energy and mind.
We are so used to have things close at hand, that when we have to think for ourselves to solve a problem or to come up with an idea which requires a little bit of imagination, our brains seem to have some kind of nervous breakdown. We find ourselves coming up against disappointment, and the line between ‘keep trying’ and ‘giving up’ is so thin, so delicate, that we become scared, knowing that our concentration hangs by a thread. It’s like holding onto something you know that, if you make the slightest move it can disappear forever.
Curiously, this morning I was reading about Nyctography, an invention by Lewis Carroll. A way that allowed him to write in the dark (curiouser and curiouser).
Any one who has tried, as I have often done, the process of getting out of bed at 2 a.m. in a winter night, lighting a candle, and recording some happy thought which would probably be otherwise forgotten, will agree with me it entails much discomfort. All I have now to do, if I wake and think of something I wish to record, is to draw from under the pillow a small memorandum book containing my Nyctograph, write a few lines, or even a few pages, without even putting the hands outside the bed-clothes, replace the book, and go to sleep again.Lewis Carroll, Letter to The Lady magazine in October 1891
How many times do we walk up in the middle of the night with a thought in our heads? Well, all we have to do is stand up, turn on the light and write down whatever is keeping us awake. Unlikely Lewis Carroll, who had to go through “the lengthy process of lighting a lamp just to have to extinguish it shortly thereafter”.
There is something in this current time in history that is taking our creativity away and making it harder for us to reach. People like Lewis Carroll, didn’t have it easier—for sure—but imagination and creativity seemed to be easier to find. I like to imagine that it used to be floting in a clearer air, waiting for those who were able to focus and catch her. These days, we have to deal with different sources of interruption: the nemesis of creativity and inspiration. Nowadays, interruption is everywhere: in social media, outside our window, our loved ones, our phones, tv, even food. Without a doubt, we’ll come across interruption on the way towards creativity and success.
So, yeah, creativity takes time, but “small actions lead us to the larger movements in our creative lives (…) small and simply daily steps in the right direction“.
We know Julia Cameron is right here, but sometimes we feel so overwhelmed that we hesitate about our capacity to be creative. All I can say in front of this situation is:
Rest your head
You worry too much
It’s going to be alright
Don’t give up
You know it’s never been easyRed Rain, Peter Gabriel