The summer of 2020 proved to be the most severe fire filled summer Australia had ever experienced, only to be followed by the arrival of a worldwide pandemic to be known as Covid19.
So how do you maintain your creativity during a pandemic? Not a question I thought I’d ever be asking but, as it turned out, one I could answer.
I undertook a major part of the writing phase of The Creative Advantage over this period. Hearing the experts discuss maintaining mental and physical health during a lock down points to the need to create routine. This project provided an excellent opportunity to test the research I was writing about. So, I consciously created a routine to both observe and monitor myself throughout this period.
I knew when my most productive periods were during the day, having undertaking productively heat maps that measure alertness. So, I would arise at the same time each morning, take time to wake up by wandering into the garden, stare at the sky and stretch with online yoga.
I’d hit the desk the same time every day and take Ernest Hemingway's advice who would write to the place where ‘he still had juice’ and leave a paragraph half complete because he knew where to start the next morning.
I’d created a physical space filled with inspiration that enabled me to focus and a reminder of the clear objective of this project.
I would stand up and sit down, in an effort to move every 45 minutes and take a break every ninety minutes. Just short ones, but enough to ensure the brain and body had a chance to reset.
I would write until 3pm and then take a long break, usually walking down the beach and listen to music or a podcast, something completely different to what I was writing about. This enabled me to restore my energy and even indulge in daydreaming. I would return and set the tasks for the next day.
I spent many evenings with my water colours playing with visual imagery with no particular objective other than to use my hands, get into a flow and be distracted by the beauty that blended watercolours can create.
I would go to bed at the same time, undertake the same slow down routine, with the aim to get eight hours of sleep. If I woke during the night I would breathe deeply to quiet and calm the chatter in my mind. If that didn’t work, succumb and get up, potter around before the mind quietened down again.
I acknowledged the anxiety of this time, wrote in my journal to give voice to the insecurities. I reflected on Maslow’s theory, grateful that my physiological and psychological needs were being fulfilled, recognising at the peak of the hierarchy that self-fulfilment can only be truly met by extending out of the comfort zone, in my case, through a writing project that in every way was reflecting who I am.
Foremost I reflected on the value of curiosity to follow trails where ever they might lead and with routine I can create a habit of discipline required to take this exploration to a conclusion.
It confirmed that in times of uncertainty I rely on creative problem solving instincts to get to the other side, visualising where the completion of this book and subsequent program would lead me.
I reflected on the creative elements of motivation, domain expertise, skills and environment, knowing I have these all working in my favour to ensure I would complete the manuscript.
I was confident that my neural networks were sparking off each other, pushing me forward and reinforcing every time I completed a sentence, that both my analytical and insightful creative processes were firing.
I knew that the research this tapped into, that I myself tap into every day in every way, would also benefit and assist others.
So how do you survive a pandemic? The same way you survive every day life, by creating goals, building creative muscle through habit, utilising restorative activities, identifying barriers and applying the tools that unlock the power of our brain’s capacity to enhance and live a creative life.
The Creative Advantage:
How the intersection of science and creativity is revealing life's ultimate advantage
Due for release in 2021.