Reflections on creativity in 2020

What a year it has been. Crazy and scary with some hopeful signs. Covid 19 for me was  probably the most impactful occurence in 2020, and the one that has caused the most disruption, particularly in Europe. In this blogpost I review its impact on creativity from a personal perspective and offer some takeways that may help with your creativity..

Together with Tracy Stanley, I have been recording podcasts all year under the umbrella title of creativity snippets. These have come from the book, Creativity Cycling that we jointly wrote, and from our blogs on creativity.

We have looked at some of the changes that were occurring as the world faced the health and economic impact of the spread of COVID. For example, the shift in Europe to more home working has led to an extensive use of online platforms for meetings and conferences. We looked at how we could apply some creativity to these in order to raise energy and continue to develop teamwork.

My experience has been that many people have found creativity harder during this period of Covid 19. It may also be that the anxiety around the pandemic was creating a huge wave of procrastination. A ‘rabbit caught in headlamps’ type of situation.

So, what are my personal reflections of the effect of covid 19 on creativity in 2020?

I have found it difficult to work on creative projects this year. We were in a lockdown situation in spring, which meant little opportunity for inspirational inputs from outside the home. This illustrated to me how important it is when encouraging creativity to be able to change one’s surroundings and have a variety of stimuli to inspire.

This lack of inspiration occured in all of my creative pursuits. With writing, through developing a habit of daily practice, I was able to keep up some form of writing. This was  sufficient to allow some space for creativity to grow.

What I found helpful through the emotionally draining times was discovering and listening to  podcasts. One of the most inspiring was that produced by Brené Brown.  Her ‘Unlocking Us’ series of podcasts touched on creativity, neuroscience and play. One of her references that resonated with me was to a blog produced on the Medium platform by Tara Haelle. She  who wrote in August last year about how our surge capacity is depleted and why we feel awful. She took us through the stages of grief, because in lots of ways this is what we were all dealing with. I particularly like this quote from her article:

Our new normal is always feeling a little off balance, like trying to stand in a dinghy on rough seas, and not knowing when the storm will pass.’

Another podcast I  enjoyed listening to was that of Elizabeth Day interviewing Alain de Botton as part of her ‘How to Fail’ series. Alain was talking about how to cope with anxiety in a time of Coronavirus.

So, to summarise my learning about creativity in a time of anxiety, I would offer these points:

  1. When we are worried, anxious, preoccupied with things, we don’t have the mental capacity or space to be creative.
  2. We need at times to stand firm and spend time without purpose until we can regain our strength to move forward.
  3. We need to be kind to ourselves and others around us and not strive too hard.
  4. Allow the space for creativity to re-enter.
  5. Develop small daily habits that can enable creativity to grow.
  6. When possible get out to seek inspiration and then renew and regrow as people.

With these thoughts, I wish you all a healthy, successful and much better 2021!

Barbara is an executive coach, leadership and creativity facilitator. She has coached women and men in a variety of corporate settings, and has developed a unique approach to using creative techniques in her coaching and workshops to enable change at a group or individual level. She has recently co-authored a book on creativity for leaders, called Creativity Cycling , with Dr. Tracy Stanley. 

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