Creating Art During Disruptive Times Finding Our Center Amid the Chaos

The last several weeks and upcoming weeks (and possibly much more) have put a huge strain on the world. Everyone is rightly concerned about staying healthy, staying employed, staying sane while managing this unprecedented time we find ourselves in.

Several of my students and friends who depend on being creative for their livelihoods have been struggling with getting into the space required to create their art. This is very stressful when you can’t get in the right frame of mind despite having all the time and space in the world to create or continue new works.

Whether we are taking lessons as a hobby or creating art as a profession, there are some things that can help us reconnect with our craft and start bringing a sense of normalcy to our process.

  1. Feel what you need to feel. Trying to power through the news and beat ourselves up for not being able to work or create is not the answer. As creative people our responsibility is to ‘feel’. Suppressing all the emotions that we are feeling right now will only make it more difficult to get into a creative space. Own whatever you are feeling and take it with you to your creative space.
  2. Turn off your phones and the news. We shouldn’t try to block what we’re feeling, but we can block out our access to the barrage of news and notifications for the times when we are at our instrument or working on new creations. As constant as the news feels, it will be there for us after we return from working and plug back in.
  3. Find rituals that prime the creative pump. If coming up with new melodies, lyrics, beats, or samples feels overwhelming to you – it’s time to fall back on simple rituals to start a session. Play scales and arpeggios for 15 minutes. Do vocal warmups. Work through a page from a technique book that you haven’t used in a while. Find something that doesn’t require your creativity to be engaged at full capacity.
  4. Think small. Don’t worry about finishing anything or trying to create a full-blown work. Think of the process like journaling. Compose a new 4 or 8 measures and call it good. Come up with a line or two of lyrics and don’t put pressure on yourself to turn them into a song. Create a beat that’s only 4 or 8 bars long.
  5. Review past successes. Take some time to play through some music that you created in the past that you’re really proud of. This will help remind you that you can do it… That you can create and create something that you are proud of.

Much of the art that we create was inspired by difficult times in our lives. A global pandemic may be way different than heartbreak, not fitting in, rage against the machine – or any other creative fuel we’ve had during our past lives. But the fact is creating during these times may help us find our centers and live better lives during the chaos and uncertainty.