Another Three Ways To Be Creative Before The Apocalypse

2015 Artwork Creative Apocalypse sketch censored version

Well, since I was stressed out at the time of writing this article (a couple of months ago), I thought that I’d revisit a topic that I’ve covered twice before (here and here). I am, of course, talking about how to remain creative when you’re feeling stressed out or worried about the future.

Apologies in advance if I repeat anything which I’ve covered in the previous two “apocalypse” articles. I probably will, but there will also be some new stuff here. Anyway, let’s get started:

1) Go for your emotions: In other words, try to focus on making something that will put you in a better emotional state than the one you are in right now.

This obviously isn’t as simple as it sounds because, if you’re stressed out, then the last thing you want to do is to sink a lot of effort into making something. So, don’t worry about quality or quantity or anything like that – just make something that will make you feel better.

Sometimes, this might be something that may sound depressing – but which makes you feel less alone in the world. Sometimes, self expression for the sake of self-expression can work wonders on an emotional level.

For example, a few months ago, I was stressed out and I kind of felt like there wasn’t quite enough time in the day. Suddenly, a couple of lines of music poetry just kind of appeared in my mind.

They went something along the lines of: “Time ticks away, hour by hour/ I feel more and more like Jack f**king Bauer“. In case you don’t know who Jack Bauer is, he’s the main character in a TV show called “24” where there’s always a ticking clock (and not quite enough time) in every episode.

Although writing this rhyming couplet didn’t immediately make me feel better – it was such a brilliantly rhythmic expression of my frustration that I could imagine it being set to music and forming the soundtrack of my life. And, thinking about a soundtrack to my life made me look at everything from a slightly more distanced perspective, which helped.

Of course, different things work in different situations. But, the genres that are best for getting into a better emotional state usually include things like poetry, dark comedy and erotica. But, go for whatever works for you – and don’t worry about quality.

2) Adventure games: If you like computer games and you’ve got an hour or two to spare, then try playing an old “point and click” adventure game (you can find a couple of freeware adventure games from the 1990s here, that will work on literally any computer – I’d recommend “Beneath A Steel Sky”). Just remember to find a walkthrough guide on the internet first, because the last thing you need right now is to be frustrated by near-impossible puzzles.

If you’ve got a bit more money, then I’d recommend buying a couple of modern “hidden object games”. These games are fairly similar to old “point and click” adventure games. These games have less frustrating puzzles and lots of beautiful artwork, although there’s slightly less exploration, dialogue and interactivity than you would find in a traditional “point and click” game.

So, why can adventure games help you to be creative when you’re in this kind of mood? Well, there are several reasons – one of them is that they often have a much slower and more contemplative style of gameplay than most games do, and this can be oddly relaxing.

Not only that, many adventure games are filled with cynical humour that can make you look at your own life in a more humourous way. In addition, most of them have fairly happy endings – which might give you hope about the future. Plus, since most of these games are focused on problem-solving, then this might put you in a better frame of mind to solve your own problems (even if you use a walkthrough guide when playing).

But, most of all, adventure games are one of the most atmospheric and immersive types of games in existence. And, if you spend long enough immersed in an interesting fictional world then not only will this make you feel better, but it’ll also spark your imagination too and hopefully lead to a few new creative ideas.

In fact, I used this exact tactic to make a drawing that was posted here a couple of days ago:

"Under A Broken Moon" By C. A. Brown

“Under A Broken Moon” By C. A. Brown

As you can see from this drawing, the perspective and layout of the drawing is fairly similar to what you can find in a “point and click” adventure game. And the background itself was heavily inspired by the dystopic sci-fi computer game settings that I’d been looking at for the past couple of hours.

3) Dissect something: No, I don’t mean that you should literally dissect something! What I mean is that you should take a fairly close look at a novel, comic, film, artwork or game that you really love and try to work out exactly what makes it so great.

Once you’ve found this out, then try making something of your own that contains these qualities (but which also has an original setting, original characters, an original story etc..). The reason why this can be such a good way to stay creative when you’re feeling stressed or miserable is because it saves you having to work out what you want to do with your story or piece of art. All you have to do is to come up with enough changes to make your work into something original.

And, best of all, you’ll also get the satisfaction of having produced something which you personally think is really cool.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three More Ways To Be Creative Before The Apocalypse

2014 Artwork Creative Apocalypse again sketch censored

Although this is an expansion to an article that I wrote last year, I was in a similar stressed-out mood when I wrote this article a few weeks ago as I was when I wrote last year’s article. Luckily though, this mood has passed.

Since I don’t want to turn this into a depressing personal blog about every little worry and stress in my life, I won’t go into any detail about why I was in this mood at the time of writing this article. But, anyway, if you’re not careful, this kind of mood can completely wreck your creativity and your drive to produce art and/or fiction.

So, I thought I’d try to come up with a few more ideas about how to create things when you’re worried about the future or you’re stressed out about something that might happen in the near future. So, let’s begin:

1) Set yourself a challenge: One of the first things that stressful and worrying situations can do is to sap your energy and shake your confidence in the world in general. And, of course, if you aren’t feeling energetic or confident, then creativity can become a lot more difficult.

Yes, you might have lots of wonderful creative ideas – but devoting lots of time and mental energy to them might seem “wasteful” or “pointless” in these circumstances.

So, how to you get around this?

Simple, you set yourself a challenge. You challenge yourself to, say, produce 500 words of fiction a day or one A5-sized drawing per day – this challenge can (and probably should be) less intense than your normal creative schedule.

But, even if it isn’t, then the important thing is that you see it as a challenge (or a game) rather than a chore or a burden. Don’t ask me why this works, but it does. Hell, it’s why I’m actually writing this article in mid-July rather than in mid-August.

Not only that, if you make your challenge something you can realistically (but not necessarily easily) achieve, then you’ll probably feel a small confidence boost when you complete it and this might help to fortify you against any worries or fears that you might be experiencing.

2)See it as a distraction: One of the things that helps me a lot when I’m stressed about things is just not to think about them and distract myself as much as possible for as long as possible.

Yes, it probably goes against most people’s advice on the subject (eg: all of that annoyingly arrogant motivational “feel the fear and do it anyway”, “Get out of your comfort zone” etc.. stuff ) but distractions are usually one of the best ways that I can stay something close to ok when I’m stressed out about something.

Of course, the best types of distractions are the ones that you don’t really have to put too much mental energy into (eg: watching TV, watching Youtube, reading comics etc…). But, at the same time, creating things can also be a good type of distraction too – especially if you’re working on a continuous story or comic and you’re curious where your story will end up going.

Not only that, even “standalone” types of creativity (like writing short stories, writing non-fiction articles or making random art) can provide 30-120 minutes of valuable distraction-time if you’ve either got a good story and/or art idea or you just feel like making something random and spontaneous.

3) Build on things you’ve already made: These kinds of moods can also mean that you might devote less thinking time and mental “processing power” to coming up with new creative ideas. In other words, you might get “writer’s block” or “artist’s block” a lot more easily than you normally would do.

So, what can you do? Simple, you can just take some of your pre-existing works and either re-create them or expand on them in some way or another (I mean, this article is a good example of this technique). You can try re-drawing/re-painting one of your old pictures in order to show yourself how much your art has improved since then, you can re-write and improve one of your old stories – the possibilities are endless.

You see, when you’re experiencing “pre-apocalyptic” writer’s block or artist’s block, the most important thing is to actually create something. Under these kinds of circumstances, things like novelty and originality shouldn’t matter as much as they usually do. So, don’t be afraid to plunder your back catalogue and re-work it.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂