Today I am so pleased to welcome Allie Therin to Joyfully Jay. Allie has come to talk to us about her latest release, Wonderstruck. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Creating While Stressed: Seven Ways to Nurture Creativity When the World is Difficult
WONDERSTRUCK, my third published book, was written entirely in 2020. If you’re reading this, you can probably relate to just how difficult writing—or, to be honest, most things—have been recently. Many creatives were already balancing their creative projects with so much else, and then 2020 threw a global pandemic and more into the mix.
When everything seems in a state of stress dialed up to 11, how do you still find time and headspace to be creative? Below are some of the things that have helped me, in case they are helpful to anyone else.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing
Ease the pressure off your creative brain. I totally get it, it’s hard when you want to bring all of your ideas to life immediately, or when everyone around you seems to work so much faster than you.
But you don’t have to drive yourself into the ground to produce art. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Comparing yourself to other people—or comparing yourself to your own expectations of where you should be—can steal the joy from your creativity. Do what you can and feel good about it.
Work with your brain, not against it
Maybe you write best in the morning, or maybe you’re a night owl. Maybe writing linearly feels right or maybe you like to write out of order. Maybe you enjoy writing partners to share your progress with, or maybe you’d rather keep your words close until you’re done. Maybe you need to write full-steam ahead, or maybe you need to spend some time getting organized. Maybe daily goals keep you on track, or maybe they just stress you out. Maybe creating graphics or blurbs helps you stay excited for your project or maybe you just want to focus on finishing.
It’s all about discovering and embracing the things that work best for you—and letting those things change as you and your life change.
Make a space for creativity…
As a new writer, I was often advised to look for the “wasted” time in my day and use that for writing. But as a parent and full-time attorney who’s also managing a chronic illness, I’m not sure I actually have “spare” or “wasted” time in my days.
It’s not an option for everyone, but if you can, instead of squeezing creative time into the margins of an already-packed day, can you make a space for it? One late night or early morning a week, a lunch break or afternoon, a space you can look forward to? It’s not about ignoring your responsibilities, it’s about saying, “Creative time is valid and important, and I am going to make space for it in my life.”
…Or make those margins work for you
Because unfortunately, as noted above: making space for creativity isn’t always an option. Sometimes all you’ve got is those margins, but maybe you can do your best to make them count.
Keep a tablet or notebook at your desk to jot down quick ideas or sentences. Record thoughts into your phone during a commute or try text-to-speech when you’re resting on the couch, if you have the spoons. I find it most helpful to identify specific questions or sticky points, so that I can focus on those if I get a spare fifteen minutes.
Try associations to get into your headspace…
Creativity isn’t a faucet you can turn on or off at will, and it can be hard to get yourself in the right headspace quickly. If you only have an hour to write, how can you make the most of it? Sometimes, creating associations can help—things like hand warmers, candles, tea or coffee, headphones or specific music, anything that helps your brain go, “Oh, it’s creating time!” and get going.
…or jolt your brain by doing something totally new!
Write in a new space. Write by hand. Listen to new music. Try a new snack. Try a new art medium—if you normally write, try painting, arts & crafts, or music. Shake things up and see if it kickstarts your creativity.
Be kind to yourself
Some of us have a tendency to be very kind and supportive when our friends struggle, then turn around and chew ourselves out for not having it more together. But you deserve that kindness too, and giving yourself a little grace might help you get that creative process going.
Best of luck in all your creative pursuits!
New York, 1925
Arthur Kenzie is on a mission: to destroy the powerful supernatural relic that threatens Manhattan—and all the nonmagical minds in the world. So far his search has been fruitless. All it has done is keep him from the man he loves. But he’ll do anything to keep Rory safe and free, even if that means leaving him behind.
Psychometric Rory Brodigan knows his uncontrolled magic is a liability, but he’s determined to gain power over it. He can take care of himself—and maybe even Arthur, too, if Arthur will let him. An auction at the Paris world’s fair offers the perfect opportunity to destroy the relic, if a group of power-hungry supernaturals don’t destroy Rory and Arthur first.
As the magical world converges on Paris, Arthur and Rory have to decide who they can trust. Guessing wrong could spell destruction for their bond—and for the world as they know it.
Allie Therin is a writer and avid reader of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance. She also is, or has been, a bookseller, an attorney, a Parks & Rec assistant, a boom operator, and a barista for one (embarrassing) day. Allie grew up in a tiny Pacific Northwest town with more bears than people, although the bears sadly would not practice Spanish with her.
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