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How to Be Creative in the Age of Coronavirus – Stop Productivity Shaming

Embrace the New Normal
You’ve probably seen the posts: ‘Shakespeare wrote King Lear while he was in quarantine. So you should go and create your own masterpiece too.’

Well, forgive me for being skeptical about the life story of a guy which includes a seven-year period we know literally nothing about – never mind a guy we’re not even certain wrote half of the things it’s said he did.

But seriously, the jury is out on whether King Lear was written during a quarantine or not. But what is clear is that Shakespeare existed at a very different time, with a very different support system to what most artists today have, and lived through multiple plagues – without creating a masterpiece in every single one.

So maybe the best way to get through this global pandemic isn’t to compare what you’re up to with the sketchy historical details of what one artist might have been up to four hundred years ago.

In fact, maybe the best way to get through this global pandemic isn’t even to compare what you’re up to now with the historical details of what you were up to even a month ago.

These are not normal times. We’re all new to this, and frankly we’re just winging it. (Unlike Shakespeare, who enjoyed his first plague at the grand old age of, uh, zero years old.) So it’s not helpful to compare the things you do, the way you feel, or any of your priorities with what those things are during ‘normal’ times. You’ll drive yourself nuts.

Maybe you’re sleeping from 3am to 11am every day. Maybe you haven’t worn pants in days. Maybe working from home has lost its charm already. Maybe you’re watching all of your hopes and dreams for a fun and outdoor summer disappear before your eyes.

C’est la vie. Que sera, sera. This is the new normal – even if it sucks.

Add to that the fact that we’re literally grieving – even if we’re lucky enough not to know someone who’s become seriously ill, or worse, because of the coronavirus.

We’re mourning all the things we thought we’d be doing now. We’re mourning the loss of our usual routines. We’re mourning an old way of life that was pretty suddenly taken away from us and been replaced with the biggest upheaval and uncertainty most of us have ever experienced. And maybe that’s a sign of our success – we’ve had it so good that to watch it all come crashing down so suddenly hurts even more. But it still hurts.

So you can’t compare how you were and what you did before with how you are and what you’re doing now.

You’re not going to be able to create ‘as normal’. You’re going to have to start creating within the parameters of the new normal.

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