Tragedy drains you like nothing else does. It takes away your happiness, your time, your concentration and sometimes, at least temporarily, your sanity. But, as a professional person, there are often time limits put on how long you have to recover from tragedy before you are expected to be back to work. This is the society we live in. And though this is difficult for anyone, there is an added layer of difficulty when your work requires you to be creative.
For me, to write novels or scripts, I need to feel creative. My mind needs to open so my imagination can breathe life into my work. But, I don’t always feel creative. Not when I’m unhappy or suffering. Sometimes, the thing that gives me so much joy, my writing, becomes a laborious process that I dread. But, in my opinion, this is where you need to be both gentle on yourself and strict with yourself at the same time.
If you have been working professionally as a writer then you are writing every day. You have a routine or process. It’s like “muscle-memory” with dancing or martial arts. You move because you know the steps. Maybe the writing won’t be great, but your body needs to show your mind that you can still function. Until, one day, your mind joins in and you are creative again, loving what you do. You exercise a routine of writing so, even if it doesn’t come easily, it can still occur.
Be kind to yourself during this time. Be patient with yourself. Don’t give up and stop just because the work isn’t flowing or maybe is even awful. Be proud that you are functioning. Don’t beat yourself up over quality or quantity. Move slowly into the rhythm of your life and find where things go now. You can’t have tragedy and think life will be the same. It won’t be. So you will need to adjust to that. If it’s a momentary tough time, tell yourself that “This time next year, this will be behind me.” Give yourself permission to be imperfect and make mistakes, but don’t allow yourself to slip into procrastination or giving up entirely.
I have a laundry list of horrible things that have happened this year, the worst being my 24 year old nephew falling asleep behind the wheel less than a minute from home and losing his life. It is so alluring to just stop. To give in to the feeling that you just can’t be creative. It is at this time that you must rely on the relationships you’ve nurtured and depend on. Have a support system in place to help you when you’re down, or to help you help yourself. Sometimes it’s just good to know that you’re not alone, or that someone recognizes how hard things must be for you.
When things are tough it’s not always easy to be yourself. So don’t be. Be who you are, going through this tough time. Be who you are, after a tragedy. Tough times change you. You don’t get to be who you were before. Now you choose to see your own courage and strength and be your own hero. Choose to let go of pride or any other obstacle that keeps you from seeking help. Choose to keep moving forward even if the words aren’t quite right. Even if you can only write 100 words in a day.
Be kind to yourself. Let others be kind to you.
The fog will clear and you will start to feel more grounded to life. One day that creativity will just show up, because it lives inside of you. It always has. Love the person you are now and be grateful for the strength you found in yourself.
Have you ever had to work through a tough or tragic time? What did you do to help yourself through it?