Being Creative in Times of Stress

I’ll be honest, folks. It’s been very difficult for me to find the will to create things over the last week or so, and I don’t necessarily see anything changing over the next while. On the one hand, this should be a great environment for me to crank out the words. All of my evenings have magically freed up. The kids have absolutely nothing going on. There’s no need to drive anyone anywhere. I don’t even drive to church each week anymore.

But creative writing is something that I have a hard time forcing. I try to treat it like a regular job: 1,000 words a day, six days a week. And so maybe that explains some of why it’s been so hard for me the past bit. I’m struggling at work, too. I sit down to get a task done, and I just sort of spin my wheels. It’s not that I’m doing something else instead. I’m not even slacking off effectively.

Instead, I find myself stopping in the middle of a thought multiple times. Staring for long periods of time at the screen. Wondering all sorts of wonders about what’s going to happen.

It’s not that I personally am afraid. I’m not afraid for myself, Denisa, or my kids. All the research I’ve done (and it’s been a lot: no lack of motivation there) indicates people who are relatively young generally get through this disease without problems. Half of the young people who get it don’t even realize they had it to begin with. But there are other impacts than the ones to my health.

For one thing, I’ve got family and friends who are older or already at risk. I read about how fast this spreads, and how many people will end up getting it, and it doesn’t take very difficult math to figure out some people I know and care for are going to be affected by it. It’s likely people I know will die. And that’s just sitting there, hovering in the air above me like some sort of ominous horror movie music. It’s not a pleasant thought to dwell on, so I try to ignore it.

But there are so many other things to worry about.

  • How long will this last?
  • How will my kids be handling learning?
  • What will this do to their grades?
  • What about the economy?
  • Will my Disney trip be affected?
  • What about my Aruba trip?

I could go on listing worries, but it’s already stressing me out. Some of those worries are very trivial. Some are potentially very serious. And I’m the sort of person who has a hard time separating the trivial from the serious, when it comes to worrying. (Seriously. It’s one reason why I put trivial things on my To Do lists. I view crossing each item off as being of equal importance. Crossing off “write journal” brings me close to the same satisfaction as crossing off “finish taxes.” I know it’s stupid, but there you have it.)

So when I’ve got all those other worries kicking around in my head, it’s difficult for me to set them aside and do something else. Anything else. So much of my writing is focused on thinking about “What if?” Right now, the majority of my brain is focused on much more serious “What ifs.” The typical ways I like to destress aren’t destressing me the way they usually do. Watching movies? Playing games? Reading? It’s just hard for me to escape that ominous horror movie music.

So how am I handling it? The same way I’m handling the rest of my life right now, of course. Pushing through it. I’m not saying I’m not doing the creative writing. But I am saying it’s much more difficult, just like everything else. And my thought is by sharing my personal experience with it, maybe it will help some of you feel less alone in the whole “living your life” effort right now.

Maybe it would make more sense to just give myself a few weeks’ vacation. But I don’t really think I’d be feeling that vacated. I’d rather get things done. Feel accomplished. Even if it takes a whole lot more personal effort to get there.

How are you handling things?


Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *