Being Creative in Survival Mode

I know that I am in an incredibly fortunate position whilst in lockdown. My stress levels are relatively low, and for the most part I am able to enjoy being stuck at home, and have the privilege of having the mental and emotional energy to be creative and productive during this time.

This time last year, however, I was in survival mode. I had just left a long-term relationship, and moved away from my beloved home on the Gold Coast. In the six months leading up to this move, my energy had slowly been chipped away, until I felt I had nothing left to give to my writing and publishing goals.

It got to the point where I knew I was not going to wake up one day and find my creative energy magically replenished. I was going to have to just start creating, whether I was feeling inspired or not, and hope that the creative energy returned as a result.

April and July Camp NaNoWriMos helped me kick-start my daily writing habit again, and as a result, my mood began to lift, and my mental health began to improve. And it was during these times that I began to learn the difference between Productivity and Creativity.  

As Is said in my previous post, everyone is dealing with this difficult time the best way they can on an individual basis. For some this means not being creative at all, and that is perfectly alright. We are grieving the things that have shifted in our lives. We are in survival mode.  We simply don’t feel inspired. But by not creating at all, we may end up feeling even worse in the long run. If we wait for inspiration to find us, we could be waiting awhile.

We know how therapeutic art therapy can be. Well, this is kind of the same thing. Sometimes we just have to start creating, even if we don’t think we have the energy, in order to get the energy to feel inspired. Sometimes you have to start doing the thing, and the energy to do the thing will follow. Creativity has incredible healing power, and is there for you to tap into anytime.







Releasing the Pressure.

Last night I came down with a cervicogenic headache. The result of way too much time spent sitting at the computer over the past few weeks, putting unnecessary stress on myself to be productive with all this extra free time.

I recently finished typing the revised edition of my book Paid To Dance: Asha’s Story Part Two. After that, I finished typing up four new short stories, AND designed the eBook covers for them. Last weekend I finally reached a months-long goal of uploading my book The Wilted Rose to Kobo, and yesterday I also published The Wilted Rose to Google Play Books. I’ve also been working on my Irish psychological suspense novella.

When I get into this anxious-productive mode, my self-care drops, and so does my overall mental and emotional well-being. I have been finding it so hard to control the anxious thoughts dominating my mind and driving me to produce results. But then I remembered that these are just thoughts-my own thoughts, my own high standards. No-one else is placing these expectations on me. There is no external deadline being imposed on me. And I can just let these thoughts go.

There is a little resistance to letting them go, of course. But I let them go anyway. Over and over again, as many times as it takes for them to go away for good.

Last night during meditation, I feel like I finally let go of the expectation I’ve been placing on myself recently, to power through this revision and publishing process and be super productive during self isolation. I had a moment of clarity, where I realized I just didn’t want to this to myself anymore. I have reached this point before, and I am patiently remembering the lesson.

Right now I am being reminded that there is no rush. I am living life on my terms now, and don’t have to provide evidence of success in any specific period of time, or fit in with another person’s timeline, or prove the validity of my writing journey. I can walk this journey at my own pace for the rest of my life. There is no need to rush anything. This has been the biggest lesson isolation has delivered to me so far.







How Isolation Is Helping Me Slow Down and Enjoy The Journey of Writing and Publishing


Last night I laid awake all night. I felt so restless when I first went to bed, and after hours of lying there staring at the ceiling, I started to feel claustrophobic. I felt so unsettled, and I wanted to cry, but I didn’t know why. Was it because of everything that’s going on in the world right now? Is it a sense of overwhelm at all the writing and publishing tasks I’ve signed myself up to to fill my self isolation time? Probably a bit of both. Regardless of the cause, I didn’t fall to sleep until after 6am this morning, and woke up around 9.30am. Ugh.

The introverted writer part of me is enjoying the extended time at home to focus on writing. This is the positive spin I am trying to maintain about this whole thing.

Think of all the things you’ll have ticked off your list by the end of this! Just get stuck in and focus on that, and isolation will be over in no time.

But I’m starting to feel like I’ve got too much time to spend on writing and publishing now. That maybe I’ve over-committed myself in my isolation goals.

This time around, I want to treat the writing and publishing process as a journey, not a destination. I’ve been trying to do this for a long time, but often my obsessive, results-driven monkey-mind takes over, and once again I become a slave to the process. Putting unnecessary pressure on myself to get projects completed, not enjoying any of it.

Even just writing this out makes me realize the pressure I’ve been putting on myself over the past month.

I recently finished typing the revised edition of my book Paid To Dance: Asha’s Story Part Two. After that, I finished typing up four new short stories, AND designed the eBook covers for them. On Saturday I finally reached a months-long goal of uploading my book The Wilted Rose to Kobo.

I want to get all of my short stories individually uploaded and published to Kobo. And then I want to restructure my short story collection The New Neighbors and re-publish it. The thought of these sizable tasks is making me feel flooded with overwhelm.

Over the past week I’ve also been working on my Irish psychological suspense novella. With all the revision and publishing prep work I’ve been doing, I felt I needed to spend some mental energy on something a bit more creative. But my anxiety is also triggered by unfinished tasks and projects (not helpful when you are a writer, I know). And unfinished is exactly what my Irish novella is. Cue more anxiety.

I want these things done yesterday. I know this is ego-driven anxiety: My ego wants results, and wants the feeling of satisfaction that comes with the finalization of publishing. 

In isolation I have also started a regular yoga practice. I have been meditating for a few years now, and have introduced a few more short meditation sessions to my daily routine, and have actually found that doing these in between tasks helps me mentally transition from one task to the next. I have been trying my best to move through my days more mindfully and with more ease and flow.

More and more, I am discovering a part of me is opening up to being more mindful of my writing and publishing journey. Opening up to allowing myself to enjoy each step, and being okay with incompleteness. I’m noticing a part of me that is pushing back at the urge to push, push, push. To surrender to the process. When we have any major spiritual shifts like this, it can keep us awake. I’m convinced that the integration of this new knowledge is what is keeping me awake.

I know my ego is not liking this, because the ego wants results. A new part of me is opening up to new levels of patience and mindfulness of the journey, allowing myself to enjoy every step. To observe it all more mindfully. And this is not something I’m used to. I’m used to rushing, feeling rushed, rushing myself, and not feeling satisfied with what I have achieved in a day.

Last year I routinely kept track of my daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly achievements, noting them in my diary. This was not so much to put pressure on myself to achieve, but as something to reflect upon when I was feeling that things weren’t moving along as quickly as I’d like. To remind me of the little things I was doing each day to move toward my goals. I have not been doing this so far this year, and I feel this has been contributing to my anxiety. I think I’m going to start.

For awhile now I have been trying not to rely so heavily on the achievement of goals for my happiness and contentment. But I must admit that I do love routine, lists to check off, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with reaching my goals, however small they may be. I’m realizing now that this organised part of me is not so much a bad thing, it just needs to be kept in check. I have consciously decided not to try and resist this part of me so much. In my attempt to sooth my anxiety in not being so outcome focused, I feel like there is a part of me that is being left unfulfilled.

In the wakeful early hours of this morning, I realized that what I need to do is find a balance between the two. Satisfy the organised part of me that thrives on ticking off lists and accomplishing goals, but also being mindful of enjoying the process.

This is a new way of being for me, and I am about to learn how to be this new way. I am going to learn how to be more mindful during all my daily activities. Not over-committing myself to the point of overwhelm, but still feeling a sense of accomplishment, and setting a few goals for each day that are easily achievable.