The creato-sphere is currently flooded with information about staying creative during a pandemic. Different phrases, all meaning ‘be kind to yourself’, are washing around our knees and you know, they’re not wrong. But there is one major thing I’ve done during the pandemic that has helped me to avoid coming to a grinding halt.
I’ve made sure that I have other, easier, things to do that feel like winning. They are all minor things that are not THE NOVEL, but feel like steps forward. On a day where I couldn’t concentrate enough to write, there were things I could do that were positive. For me, a new writer, these things have been:
- Learning things. I’m doing Sophie Hannah’s ‘Dream Author’ programme, which is more about mindset than writing itself. There are webinars to watch, workbooks to do, small missions she sends us and podcasts to listen to. There’s no pressure at all to do it; this is a buffet from which each participant can pick the tastiest morsels. But you don’t have to be on a paid course. You can make your own from the podcasts, webinars and writing promps that are all over the place.
- Setting up instagram. I’ve been meaning to look into this for ages but I’ve just never got round to it. It was fun, easy and ticked off something that’s been on the list for a long time. This also meant that taking part in author insta felt like progress too. I could put a picture up, like a few things, comment on something and hey, progress had been made that day.
- Knitting. No really. Making something easy that quickly produced visible progress and had no pressure attached just kept my creative side feeling satisfied (and also gave me something to post on instagram for a double win!) For others it might be colouring or gardening or photography. The point is that all creativity is positive. I may not have reached my writing goals, but I do have a jumper.
And I say I didn’t achieve my writing goals – I didn’t because they were quite ambitious and then a pandemic happened – but I did get about 20,000 words of my novel written during lockdown, partly because I didn’t push too hard.
So, yes, be kind to yourself. And a really good way to do that is to find those little smudgy victories.