• Azalea Forrest

Creativity During Covid

Updated: Sep 11

When I lost my job due to Covid-19 near the end of March, I expected it, although I thought we might last another week or two. I was laid off, not furloughed, but I knew that once we reopened our doors that they would rehire me. Still, the uncertainty along with the stress and lack of initiative that was happening (and is still happening) in our country wasn’t (and isn’t) easy to deal with. On top of that, my state has terrible leadership, and our unemployment system was not only overwhelmed, but broken. It took almost two months for me to see a single unemployment payment, and I was one of the lucky ones.


Five months later, and there are still people in Florida who haven’t received any money from unemployment, despite being eligible on paper. I won’t go into it too much, but for details, look up Greg Angel, news anchor and reporter for News 13 Orlando, as well as Anna Eskamani, Florida representative.


During my time out of work, I saw many people still pushing the hustle: the idea that now that “everyone” is at home, we can push that hustle even harder, push the art and creativity, get all the things we’ve been meaning to do done… (For the record, “everyone” was not at home.)


But that wasn’t the case for me at all. Sure, I set up a few new things, pumped out a couple blog posts, got some editing done, but my creativity hadn’t improved. And could I really blame myself? Like many others, most of my attention was on the pandemic. How could it not be? How was it affecting my county? My state? My country? The world? I have friends that work in the medical field: how are they handling it? There are so many people that never got to stop: restaurants, fast food workers, there were even hotels that didn’t close down, and of course, hospitals. I commend those that can keep up their creative pursuits under all that mess, and in fact some even strive under that sort of pressure, but I won’t beat myself up for processing and empathizing with fellow human beings in my own way.


Besides, I didn’t see a whole lot of people throwing money around considering the uncertainty with their own jobs. Who are these people even selling to? (Don’t answer that, ha.) On top of Covid, many, many protests of another kind broke out, and rightfully so. The racial injustices in our country have been teetering at the edge for a long time. But I digress.


Two and a half, almost three months later, and I’m back at work. I thought, hey, maybe things will get a little easier now that there’s less uncertainty in the air… But the world is still hard, and crazy, and stressful. And pushing myself to be creative isn’t helpful. Everything built up: the guilt of not creating, the pressure to perform, and my mental health suffered for it. It’s been hard to focus on much of anything. Even reading is hard to focus at times.


This is all to say: it’s okay to feel unable to work on your art. Allow yourself to feel the uncertainty, to feel scared, or upset, angry, or even indifference and numbness, or to be bored and frustrated. This pandemic isn’t normal, and it’s doubtful that we’ll ever return to our “old normal”. Many are calling for a new normal, and I don’t blame them. Eventually, we’ll get back in our groove.


As time has gone on, while I’ve been frustrated at times that I couldn’t just push myself to write or edit, I’ve allowed myself space to just do “nothing”, or to work on other things. Instead, I’ve gone to the empty park, or into my backyard, any way to get some nature back into my life and to feel the sun on my skin. I’ve taken to researching and studying in my spare time, and just allowing myself to be okay with having a day (or three) of just watching Netflix. I picked up a new book, went back to some old hobbies I hadn’t practiced in a while, took naps… But what’s really helped is exercise. Refocusing your energies into something else can help during times of stress like these, but can also help with writer’s block and plateaus.


Everyone processes trauma, stress, and uncertainty in their own ways. Not everyone is taught, or equipped, with helpful responses, and no one was prepared for a crisis like Covid-19. While I’ve expressed here that things weren’t exactly easy for me, they weren’t always difficult, either. My partner, friends, and family have all been a rock, and a lifeline. Even without a crisis, sometimes art just won’t happen, and that’s okay.


Like everything in life, even a crisis like this, there is ebb and flow. I try to be grateful for the days I’m able to be “productive”, and I try to be grateful for even the “unproductive” days too, for life is never always on, or otherwise. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be constantly spinning the wheel. I’m grateful to slow down, and I hope you all can gain some peace and know that you can slow down too.


Please remember to wear your masks, use hand sanitizer, wash your hands, and social distance! We can’t move forward unless we work together.


How has your creativity been since the Covid-19 crisis? What have you done to be more creative, or to allow yourself the space to accept the world’s current condition and to slow down? I’d love it if you shared your experiences and tips with us in the comments!


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