An essay discussing the widespread and more personal impacts of lock-downs on creativity.
|Creativity and the Coronavirus Lock-downs
Logic would say that lock-downs would be great for creativity. All these people that would never usually have time to follow artistic pursuits were suddenly presented with that very thing - time. And initially there did seem to be a boost in writing, in art, in music and anything else you might be able to think of. However, as the pandemic has spread and the length of the lock-downs have increased, more and more people that are usually very productive have found themselves struggling, and I am one of those.
I came across two interesting articles that go some way towards explaining what might be happening. The first is called 'Brain Fog: How Trauma, Uncertainty and Isolation Have Affected Our Minds And Memory.' The basic gist of this is that the human mind needs a certain amount of new sensory input and prolonged social isolation has been depriving us of this very thing.
One of the examples it gives is of someone walking into a room with a purpose in mind, only to find that, once there, they cannot recall what it was that they intended to do. Another example is struggling to find words mid sentence, be it spoken or written. I have been increasingly suffering from both of these, especially since the beginning of 2021.
Brain fog is very similar to the early signs of Alzheimer's Disease or dementia. Are the symptoms caused by 'same, same, same' or are they indicating the start of a progressively downward slide? The possibility leads to anxiety, which in turn makes the very causes of worry even worse.
Maybe before it was possible to head off to a doctor and discuss those worries, perhaps have your mind put at ease. Not now, though, for GP's are only seeing patients face-to-face if it is really necessary. Phone consultations are the norm and people like me, who are made anxious by the very idea, will do anything and everything to avoid going through one of these.
If there is one thing that is the enemy of creativity, it is anxiety.
The second article, 'Have Introverts Really Fared Better In Lock-down', comes up with some surprises. The personality traits of extroverts and introverts are opposites, but are also on a spectrum. Other factors have to be taken into consideration.
Many extroverts were hit hard at the beginning of lock-down, suddenly finding themselves isolated from their friends, colleagues and anyone else. However, with technology, social media and the likes of Zoom, they quickly found ways to adapt and keep up some kind of contact. If they found themselves feeling down they were far more likely to reach out for support than introverts. These are the people who have thrived the most.
We cannot view introverts as just one group. Some are quite content in their own company for weeks and weeks at a time. These are the 'happy' introverts, whereas I am most definitely in the 'anxious', stressed-out group. If there is anything to worry about, either on a personal or a global scale, I'm going to be worrying about it... big time.
There has been another shift too. Due to the number of people who have suffered from coronavirus, or even worse, have lost loved ones from it, it's not okay to be depressed without some kind of 'valid' reason. People are advised to avoid others who are 'negative' as a way of protecting their own mental health, making those of us who suffer from depression even more isolated and... depressed.
issed no more than a handful of days of writing for the past seven years, I came up with my own way of beating the 'creative slump'. I would, I told myself, force myself out of it by taking on more and more projects. I would send my writing out there to publications. I would submit my digital art to places like Pixabay and Unsplash. In other words, I set myself up for an even bigger fall.
I could not keep up with the things I took on. My submissions were rejected. Even the everyday writing I had always enjoyed was soon to become a formidable task. Never having been confident at reviewing, my self-confidence hit such a low that I felt I had no right to comment on anything. I slowed down on reviewing and have now almost stopped completely. Each failure has led to less confidence, more anxiety, more depression and guilt. In other words, I did a great job of self sabotage, but not of anything else.
The lock-downs are slowly being lifted over here. People seem more relaxed as their lives begin to get back to normal, even if it is a 'new' normal. The thing is, my life has not changed. All through lock-down I've done the same as I usually do, going out twice a week for essential shopping, so can I really blame it for my creative slump? I don't know. Only time will tell.
Writing this has left me feeling drained and exhausted; it is by far the longest piece that I have written for weeks. If I have shed a slightly reassuring light on anyone else's difficulties, then it will have been worth the effort.