How to be creative in a pandemic

First, get a good night’s sleep.

If you’re too anxious to sleep, consider reading one of the 10 zillion articles available on the Internet about how to improve your sleep, and/or how to cure your anxiety.

There. Now that that’s taken care of, you’re ready to make something.

Take stock of your inner terrain. What is it that you want to express?

Juuuust as the answer begins to crystallize, ask yourself if your personal expression is meaningful in the midst of a global health crisis. Or, really, ever.

Remember, when you were 19, the post-it note you found: “Self-expression isn’t a virtue.” Not a virtue! That shut you right down. To be un-virtuous is…unattractive. And you must always, always, be attractive.

Feel shame about your privilege. Feel shame about the shame, which, by the way, is also not a virtue.

Do work that you hope creates a better world. Donate to organizations doing the work that you do not feel called to do, but that you believe is essential, like fighting to make sure everyone can vote.

Doodle while your child asks you to tell her a story.

Tell the story.

Write in your journal to get the feelings out. “Emotional poop,” your husband calls it, encouraging your daughter. “It has to come out somehow,” he explains.

Like real poop, making emotional poop is incredibly satisfying.

Wonder, “What if?”.

Follow your curiosity (thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert and Big Magic). Stretch like a cat in one direction, and bound like a dog in another.

Connect to yourself/ the world/ yourself.

Remember, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost” (thank you, Martha Graham).

Remember what you finally decided about the post-it note, after the years of anguish it caused (stupid post-it note): Making art may not save the world, but not making art may not save the world, either. So you might as well be happy.

Remember, what you create doesn’t have to be Important, Relevant, or Timely—it has to be true.

There are not enough true things in this world. Truth is a revolutionary act.

Energy, life force—in the end, what else is there?

Energy, life force—these are sacred things.

When you create, you make the world sacred, if only for a flickering moment.

If we could travel together to outer space, we would look down at our planet, and we would see these lights, flickering, all over.

—Everyone creating, despite their own post-it notes.

—All those lights, burning the post-it notes to ashes.

I scatter the ashes across the powerful and salty sea.

And then I get a good night’s sleep.

Amanda Hirsch is a writer and story coach on a mission to fill the world with women’s stories. She is passionate about encouraging people to be their authentic self and to create an online presence that reflects that self in powerful ways.

Writer and mother. On a mission to fill the world with stories that tell the truth about women—and with women who tell their stories.

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