Are You at A Creative Pivot Point?
Adapt and discover. Photo by No-longer-here on Pixabay
The pandemic can feel unending, and there’s a general sense among the people I know that we’re stuck in limbo. At least change is happening in nature. Yes, it’s February, and central Virginia has had more long-lasting snow and ice than normal. On the bright side, though, a warm rain washed away most of the ice the other day, and twilight arrives later each evening.
The stuckness that we’ve been feeling is real. And our expectations – even those we thought we’d adapted to the realities – continue to be thwarted. Enter pivoting.
From one extreme to the other, from gaining unforeseen open creative time to losing all semblance of a sense of control over our creative life, we’re all faced with sudden unplanned shifts. Here are some strategies for making the most we can of situations when our creative projects must pivot. A propos, farther down the page I’m offering a free One Next Step session that may be helpful. And I’m linking to my recent blog for coaching colleague Jana Van der Veer, with ways to use shared commitment to generate new creative energy.
Turn Things to Your Advantage
Not all change is bad. Sometimes we can take advantage of disruptions. The circumstances of the pandemic actually helped some of my coaching clients. These people noticed that their schedules opened up once they could no longer travel, or get together with colleagues, friends, relatives, and groups. Several of them reached out to me for help structuring more creative time for themselves, in the space opened up by their loved ones’ absence. Bolstering their creative work has helped them weather the many months of lockdown and isolation, by supporting their inner journey of greater commitment to creative projects.
Adapt and Discover
Sometimes the discomfort of the shift can become delight in the new form a project can take. Sometimes, it’s possible to adapt and discover new forms of creative expression.
For some writers I know, a manuscript that was only an idea a year ago has become a published book. A set of essays advocating for an important cause is turning into a memoir. A series of articles is becoming a deck of cards. For a songwriter, the scribbled notes of a few lines of lyric have become a completed, recorded song, shared joyfully with the monthly zoom gathering of fellow songwriters united over the miles by their love of new music.
While the transitions to new rules and new media presented challenges, those artists feel as though they have prevailed at least a little against the pandemic.
Get Real (and Kind)
People who are responsible for their children’s education, a full-time job, and home life, are feeling crushed, unable to even consider sustaining a creative project. Those who contracted the disease, or care for loved ones who did, are dealing with tremendous upheaval, and sometimes, grief. Economic uncertainty is a factor, leading to exponentially more stress and threatening basic health and wellbeing. It can feel as though revisiting – let alone sustaining – a creative project is completely impossible. People affected this way by the pandemic speak with a mix of wistfulness and anger of the Before Times.
When crushed by the wants and expectations of others and the necessity of keeping the lights on, we can do what is possible. Just that. And that may be very, very little, indeed. Compassion is essential. It’s important to stay grounded in what is possible – right now – and lay off unfair expectations. And, if and when moments of respite occur, small gestures and reminders can make a big difference.
Romance Your Muse. Photo by Ben_Kerckx on Pixabay
Romance the Muse
If you’re feeling estranged from your muse, consider dropping a love note now and then to yours, promising that you have not forgotten, and that you cherish your relationship. Or whisper to your creative self as you fall asleep, “I’ll be back. We’ll be together again.” Carry a small notebook or sketchpad that you can grab at any moment when a random idea surfaces. Hum or speak into the voice recorder on your phone, for future reference.
Remember, It’s Not Lost
No matter how small, disjointed, erratic, poorly organized, or random our creative efforts are, during a pandemic or at any other time, it’s essential to remember that it all counts. In the words of a painter I knew, “it’s not lost.” Even when she purposely discarded canvases she had devoted time and care to, she had the wise perspective to see that her work was not lost. She knew that it all was important, one way or another. She was more skilled, more nuanced, more sensitive a painter because she had made those works, even though she rejected them in the end.
Similarly, we can remember that, however much our creative projects and creative lives have shifted, morphed, and changed during the pandemic, our zeal can be retrieved, if it’s gone missing. Our work can be re-started and re-directed. Our creativity lives on. In the words of a song I wrote, inspired by that painter, It’s Not Lost.
Learn from Your History
When in the past have you adapted when your projects had to pivot? See how your flexibility and inventiveness have helped you progress in unexpected ways, at other challenging junctures in your creative life. Look to your own past for help adjusting to your current situation.
One Next Step • Limited Time Offer
Are you at a pivot point? Right now, I’m offering One Next Step – a no-charge, no-obligation 20-minute chat with me about a creative situation that’s slowing you down. When you select a time slot, I’ll also ask you to describe what’s going on so I can think about it before we speak. During your One Next Step session, we’ll brainstorm for 20 minutes. By the end of our time together, you’re likely to have a few new ideas for a clear next step or two.
Positive Energy from Shared Commitment
Are you weathering things okay? Have you needed to pivot? What did you discover that helped you do it? I’d love to know.