Creativity Under Pressure

I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity during a pandemic. Not just because we are in one and I need to be creative but because I was placed on a mystery conference panel about that very topic. (Bouchercon 2020 virtual conference)

2020 has been a weird year, to say the least. In terms of creativity it has been both good and bad. I’ve submitted more stories for publication than ever before. I’ve written more short stories than any time in my life (I wrote one last year–and 5 this year).

I’m also making progress, slowly, on my novels-in-progress and taking them through my read and critique group.

It all sounds pretty good. I’ve been lucky. Some of you may know that in 2018 I was rather sick. It had been creeping up on me for a few years but by the end of 2018, I got sick enough to realize it was happening to me and go to the doctor. 2019 my health and energy slowly returned. You see, I had severe sleep apnea. I was constantly tired, but it happened so gradually that I just accepted it as normal. It was NOT normal. It caused high blood pressure and diabetes and made me seriously ill. I’ve taken control of my life, thanks to medication and a cpap machine, but I know that I was very lucky to come out of it.

So, any increase in productivity in my writing may be safely chalked up to my coming to life again. That and a boost of self confidence that comes in hearing that the two short stories you’ve written are also accepted for publication.

I think the pandemic, while it may have given us more time at home (at least it did for me), also has added a layer of stress and uncertainty that makes writing harder.

The good sides are more resources and online events available than ever before. It’s a rather tarnished silver lining to all that has happened.

Otherwise, I think we need to acknowledge that these are not normal times and to not be too hard on ourselves. Don’t use the pandemic as an excuse to get out of creativity, but let it be a reason to take it easy in the recriminations department. Don’t look back on what you didn’t do. Look forward to how you can do more the next day.

The same techniques for focusing and productivity can still work. We just need to take it one step at a time.