If Getting to Your Main Creative Medium is a Challenge Right Now
For some reason, I had a really hard time sitting down to read or write anything those first couple weeks of self-quarantine. Instead, I craved art. I made art, I studied art, I went through all my craft supplies. I sketched characters from our (now online) DnD campaign. And all that time, I could not bring myself to open a book.
I was going through my shelves the other day and came across a copy of Unity: 1918 by Kevin Kerr. It’s a play I was in back in my undergrad, about how the Spanish Flu affected a small Saskatchewan town at the end of WWI. I put it on my nightstand and avoided it. It felt too real, too connected to what was going on in the world today. But yesterday, I picked it up and finished it in one sitting. The scenes of quarantine, isolation, of people taking unhealthy risks and starting fires, it all felt very real. It is truly bizarre to think that I’m wearing a mask in public ten years after the fake felt ones we wore onstage for that show.
It also made me think how amazing it is that I’m reading this play around a decade after it was written, about an event that happened over 100 years ago, and it can still speak to me. Because writing is my main creative medium, this idea of the playwright crafting a story that has lasting relevance particularly struck me. We are living in a historic moment. What will we think about this time when we look back? How will it change how we imagine the future? Because although we are all affected by this global event, our experiences of it are very different. And I’m sure the kinds of art that comes out of it will be varied and unique as well. But art comes after the experience.
I think I depended on drawing and making things with my hands those first few weeks to figure out what I was feeling. I needed to be in the nebulous realm of my own experience, before I could branch out into sharing in other ideas, especially through words. This way of working through things isn’t a list of steps to get through the pandemic or anything. Our creative processes are all valid. All I’m saying is that if you’re feeling blocked or stuck during this time, if getting to your main creative medium is a challenge right now, that is one hundred percent okay.
Here is something I’m trying, if you want to try it as well. I’ve set a small goal. As much as I can, I’m trying to do one thing at a time. Make a cup of coffee. Watch a movie with my husband. Sit in the backyard. This is obviously not possible to do all the time (sometimes I rush to finish all the chores in a hurricane of efficiency because I don’t want to do them later), and may be more challenging if you have a busy household. Creatively, it’s helping me to appreciate each thing, and to be ready for those small promptings, when my work in progress says “Rhonda should be wearing different shoes in this scene” or “Maybe we could cut this chapter.”
Like I said, this isn’t a “number-of-steps list based on how I found my way back to my main creative medium” or anything. The process is going to be different for everyone. Sometimes it’ll take experimenting to see what works best for you. Sometimes many naps will be involved, maybe a time of reflection, definitely approaching your efforts with a lot of self-grace and self-care. But with a little time, your creative medium will find its way back to you. And you’ll be waiting.
Brittni Brinn writes (mostly) post-apocalyptic fiction. She has a M.A. in Creative Writing, Language and Literature from the University of Windsor and is the author of The Patch Project and the forthcoming sequel, A Place That Used to Be. Her interests include rocks kicked up by the ocean, books from friends, and comfortable sweaters. She currently lives in Windsor, Ontario along with her husband and two cats. You can read more about her work at brittnibrinn.com.