(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr. Find out more at my newsletter.)
My creative side has felt, for lack of a better word, arthritic throughout the Pandemic. It was there, I created, but neither as fast nor as joyfully as I had before. Sometimes I was scared, as it felt part of me was ossifying – creativity is part of me.
My remedy was to do what I do – organize. I kept to a regular plan for things like writing my blog posts. I planned – and re-planned my various works. I made time to read and to write. Even when I didn’t feel it, I did my best to move forward.
It wasn’t always joyful – sometimes I had that bone-on-bone sensation of grinding grimly forward. There were days my only pleasure was checking off a task or noting I’d written for an hour. If I kept knowing, I knew I’d get back to being myself.
While I persevered, I would feel that creative spark, that joy of making. It might be for a day or a week, but it was there. As long as I kept moving forward, the drudgery gave way to bright shining moments of creation.
In time, especially as of late, I began to feel like my old self. That spark, that flexibility, that urge would come more and more. I’m sure some of it was hope as the Pandemic promised an end, but some of it felt like another experience.
A few times, I’ve had to have physical therapy for an injury. I realized what I experienced here with my creativity was similar. I’ve had pulled, damaged, or stiff muscles addressed with regular and specific exercises. My creative returns felt the same as those days I realized that the pain or stiffness of a damaged muscle was going or gone.
What I did with my planning and scheduling and at-times repetitive drudgery was doing “physical therapy for the soul.” With enough exercise, my old mental flexibility and ability returned. I had given myself creative therapy without knowing it.
A lesson to take from this is that perhaps we can treat creative damage like a physical injury. We may need a rest or a break, but we may also need regular stretching and work to restore ourselves. The key is to see it as treatment – we should not treat the creative loss as a reason to punish ourselves. Some injuries you can’t “walk off.”
Instead, we should treat ourselves. We should find what will help us return and heal. I could have been more gentle with myself, and if I face this situation again, I can be more prescriptive.