Ok, I’m not talking about a literal apocalypse here. Obviously, if hell runs out of room and the restless dead begin to rise from their graves or if a stray meteorite is on a direct collision course with earth – you’re probably better off hiding in a shopping centre or finding the nearest spacecraft than writing or drawing anything.
However, there are some times when a particular part of your life feels apocalyptic in one way or another.
These kinds of times might make you feel more creative, but they can be just as likely to give you a serious case of writer’s block. Sometimes this can be a good thing if you don’t have any energy or time to spare for creativity.
But, if you’re the kind of person where creativity is an essential part of who you are (eg: pretty much every person who has dedicated their life to being a writer, poet and/or artist) then here are a few ways to be creative when you feel that you’re either facing or going through an apocalypse.
These are probably fairly obvious and I can only think of three of them at the moment, but I hope that they are useful nonetheless 🙂
1) Pour your emotions into your work: One of the central driving forces behind creativity are emotions. Whilst I’ve written before about evoking emotions in yourself before creating something, if you’re facing an apocalypse then you need to do the opposite. You need to take your emotions and dump them into your creative work. In other words, create something which is extremely cathartic. Don’t hold back. Let it all out.
In fact, there’s even some research which shows that this is actually good for you on a physical level too.
If you’re in the middle of a creative project, then add something cathartic to your current project. However, if it radically changes the tone of your project (eg: having something extremely depressing in the middle of a comedy story) then it’s probably best to create something else cathartic until you feel creative enough to return to your current project again. But, if your story has room for strong emotions in it – then go for it!
One word of warning about this is that it is usually a good idea to express your feelings in a slightly indirect way rather than literally pouring out whatever is going through your mind onto the page. In other words, create something which expresses the same emotions as you are feeling, but which (on the surface) has nothing to do with you. This is good for you, since your story will basically read like a private diary entry otherwise. It is also good for your readers, since they probably want to read an interesting story or look at an interesting piece of art rather than what is basically a diary entry.
2) Take a short break: Sometimes you can just be too overwhelmed with emotions to be creative. If this is the case, then it can be worth taking a break and doing something which makes you feel better. This isn’t a waste of time if the alternative is just staring at a blank page or screen and feeling even more terrible because you can’t create anything.
Just work out how long you’re going to take a break for in advance and then do something (within reason) which makes you feel good. For example, if you’re feeling seriously angry and frustrated about something, then I can personally think of no better way to get rid of some of these emotions than putting on some suitably loud and angry music (heavy metal, punk and/or rap music are usually best) and spending twenty minutes playing a visceral and intense game of “Brutal Doom“.
Seriously, far from being a menace to society, violent computer and video games are an excellent (and safe) form of stress relief.
Whatever you do, taking a short break can help you feel refreshed and more creative again.
3) Creative triage: If you’re feeling too overwhelmed by your situation and emotions to create your usual amount of art/fiction/poetry etc… then at least creating something can feel better than creating nothing. Don’t be afraid to prioritise your projects, focus on the ones you find most important and produce less than usual. The important thing is to find a level of creativity which you feel comfortable with and which makes you feel better – if you’re already feeling overwhelmed, then stressing yourself out with lots of projects and work can be counter-productive and make you feel even more blocked.
So, scale down for a few days until you feel more better and more creative again. Likewise, another way to do this is to focus on quality rather than quantity or vice versa. Whatever, just find a way to take the pressure off of you so you can feel more comfortable with creating things. After all, if you’re feeling apocalyptic, then it can sometimes even be an achievement to create a small amount of creative work, let alone the amount that you usually produce. Go easy on yourself. Remember, creativity is supposed to be fun.