Creating Through Crises
Crisis: "CRY-sis" A devastating or terrible event.
Crises: "CRY-sees" The plural of crisis.
FIRST: Give. Spread Awareness. Stay informed. And yet, somehow, frequently and for extended periods, withdraw attention from the problem and imagine brightly the solution.
Why this post?
A series of cascading crises one can cause creative blocks that are difficult to overcome. Some creators never come back. Maybe some of this post will help you to try. The topic here applies to everyone. We are all creating, all of the time. We are, at our souls, creators.
I had a hard time writing. I remember that most of my colleagues did, too. We wondered how our stories even mattered, given the great big horrible thing that had just happened to our world. I barely wrote at all, but only for a few weeks. I don't think many of us wrote during that period. We were glued to the TV. 24-hour CNN was already a thing, so there was plenty to keep us there.
My mother journeyed through pancreatic cancer. She was diagnosed at the end of '04 and she passed at the beginning of '06, a 14-month period of awful. During that time, I did not stop writing. I wrote straight through it because of an existing deadline and a persistent delusion that I was super-human. My editors kept asking if I needed more time, but I said no, and kept on going. The book I turned in made them wonder who the hell had written it. It was flat. It had no emotion. it was a police report of what happened when with no heart, no drama, no angst, no passion to it. There was sex. Just no emotion.
I had to trash the whole book and start from scratch, and by the time I felt able to do that, I had gained a bit more perspective. I think I had shut down my emotions just to get through that period, and I couldn't turn them back on, even in my fiction.
But let's get down to actionable steps you can take to get your mojo back.you can take to get your mojo bac.you can take to get your mojo ba.you can take to get your mojo b.you can take to get your mojo .you can take to get your mojo.you can take to get your moj.you can take to get your moo.you can take to get your mo.you can take to get your m.you can take to get your .you can take to get your.you can take to get you.you can take to get yo.you can take to get y.you can take to get .you can take to get.you can take to ge.you can take to g.you can take to .you can take to.you can take t.you can take .you can take.you can tak.you can ta.you can t.you can .you can.you ca.you c.you .you.yo.y..p for the better part of a year and produced very little in 2021. This time it was fear for my daughters, three of them nurses, the other two teachers, risking their lives every day. And admittedly, I spent much of that time purely furious with my fellow humans. That's the furthest thing from aligned with the Source of all Story. That's a self-made block. No flow of fiction t you can take to get yourjo back. Besides, I couldn't write anything scarier or more dramatic than what I was experiencing.
All the above is a long way of saying, I've been through this a few times, and I keep finding my way back to good.
Now there's Ukraine
This time I think I've got it.
I'm still creating...
After a few rounds of this, and having only just regained my mojo from the mother of all writers' blocks, I have somehow not hit another one.
I'm just as riveted and concerned as I've ever been. I hate that people are suffering. I love that the world has come together to help. I love that many countries are trying to assist, but I hate that some of the ones assisting are also currently occupying other territories at the same time. I love that all of this is bringing our world's biases into sharper, clearer focus. I also love that everyone seems to have stopped fighting over masks and vaccines now that it's very clear what an attack on freedom actually looks like.
Searching for the silver lining is one way to keep from getting sucked into despair and losing our creativity. I think about where all of this turmoil might be leading.
Short term--Putin's reign ends, Ukraine prevails and starts to rebuild, and the western world is more united than it's been since the end of WWII.
Middle term--Seeing citizens so much more connected, informed and empowered, China takes a much more liberal approach to Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Long term--Strong men dictatorships go extinct.
Forevermore--New heroes and heroic stories are born and shared, and these stories, like all stories, take on lives of their own and become important influences on our cultural evolution.
This turmoil is creating more empathy, more unity, more harmony. Maybe it feels odd to think something as unharmonious as war can actually create harmony. But think about how a pendulum swings. Think about "every action has an equal and opposite reaction." The very purpose of difficult times is to drive humanity to make the changes necessary to eradicate the problem by replacing it with the solution.
But let's get down to actionable steps you can take to break your blocks.
Beating the Blocks
Here are all the things I have done to help myself through creative blocks caused by external events and how they have worked.
Give myself permission to take time off. This has worked for me for two of my blocks. One time I took 3 months off to enjoy the summer and was able to come back in the fall at about half my former pace and passion. In hindsight, I think I came back too soon. The most recent block, I took almost a year off, and I think that was too long. When I finally forced myself to begin again, (because waiting for it to return on its own was taking way too long,) it came flowing back, and I think it might have done so a bit sooner. Result: Permission to take down-time is good for me. But I must try to come back periodically, and to give it a real try when I do. Write every day for a week. If the flow returns, I'm ready. If it doesn't, I might need a little more down time.
Create something entirely different. During one block, I repainted all my garden gnomes. During all my blocks, I have continued writing blog posts and articles and newsletters and recipes. I've built websites and made videos and designed graphics. Creating something, anything, is good for the soul, and I think it keeps the creative energy flowing. So paint or sculpt or sing or anything during your break from your usual creative outlet. Redecorate a room. Do major hoe-outs. Re-arrange the furniture. Change your style, clothing, hair, makeup. Try things you've never done before.
WRITE things you've never written before. Start a story in any genre you've never ever attempted. A cozy mystery. A dystopian thriller. A cowboy western. A memoire.
Take Media Breaks It's kind of hard to look away from the news for very long at the moment. During normal times, I can take days off news, or weekends off news, etc, and in "normal times" I watch a little in the morning and evening and it's plenty. During times like these, I can at least turn it off at regular intervals. Get up to speed, and literally turn it off in between. I am notorious for using the news as background noise while I'm working, but I think the work suffers when I do that. I have to remind myself constantly that I am seeing the same stories over and over again, the very worst stories they could dig up, because that keeps us glued to the screen. The worst the news, the better the ratings. Sometimes the only way I can do it is to put on something I can binge that I don't care too much about. Just pick a series, start it up, and let it go. Then as I fall into story, I lower the volume, a little more, a little more, my hand working on auto-pilot. I'm not even aware I'm turning it down, and pretty soon, I'm fully immersed whatever it is I'm creating, and the TV is muted or merely a soft drone.
Nurture your muse by feeding her what she loves - great stories. Read fiction, watch fiction, listen to fiction, re-read your very favorite books. When the flow of story flows through you in one direction, the reverse flow is automatically activated. Great storytelling begets great storytelling.
When I try to write again, I make sure to ONLY attempt it when I am feeling really good. When I'm upbeat, positive, relaxed, aligned, and happy. I bring my energy into my book, so if I write while feeling blocked, defeated, depressed, frustrated, or angry, the book is getting all that, and nothing from the muse. I promise my readers this: Even when I'm torturing your favorite character, I am in a really good mood!
Detox. Everything is connected, so to remove blocks, you might want to look at any physical blocks too. Processed foods, chemicals. Take a week or two to try a natural diet of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and lots and lots of water. Leave off the processed foods, the meat and dairy, the soda, the alcohol. You'll have to actually cook. It's easy, I promise. The crock pot is your friend, and you can make enough for a week at a time. Do a ten-day cleanse in this way and you will not believe how good you'll feel. Your body will feel lighter, your mind will feel fresh and crisp and clear, and your energy will be higher than it's been in years. I guarantee it. (I need to do a post just on this.)
Meditate. When I quiet my mind in silent meditation, it opens the flow between my here-and-now-self and my non-physical self, which is much broader and has a wider perspective, plus access to all existence. Story flows purely when the connection to one's non-physical Source Energy is strong and clear of blocks or static. Meditation is tuning into the signal of Source Energy, by any name. So my daily (mostly) meditation practice is to turn off all the noise, get comfy, set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes, launch a white noise app, and count my breaths. OR I use the "Mostly Meditation" music from Abraham-Hicks' "Getting into the Vortex Guided Meditations." It's only on the downloadable version. Here's a link. I like the meditation because the music itself is the breathe-in, breathe-out cue, and there's only about 30 seconds of spoken guidance at the beginning and end. I could never meditate until I tried it with this recording, so it's my go-to favorite.
So those are my tips for getting our creative grooves back during this difficult time, or any difficult time. And remember, the harder the problem, the bigger and better the solution that's waiting on the other side.
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