Creativity can be elusive at the best of times. I’ll sit down at my desk, the house blissfully quiet, the coffee machine bubbling away, a full day ahead to write or pitch, and … nothing. Then, just as I’ve given up and headed out to run errands, hands loaded down with shopping bags, the most brilliant idea will float in. Sadly, it’s often forgotten before I reach home.
In the last few weeks that creative flow has gone from elusive to, well, evaporated. Or at least hidden under thick, sticky layers of anxiety. My first waking thought now is of a virus I had never heard of three months ago. I worry about catching it, about friends and family catching it, about the financial implications, about my sanity when faced with the same four walls for another 24 hours. That leaves precious little space for the flow of creative ideas I rely on.
I’m far from alone. As the World Health Organization has warned, stress and anxiety are set to spike at an alarming rate. This stress breeds an inability to focus, makes us feel more tired and can even cause the creative centre of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, to switch off completely.
For creative freelancers, this creates a huge dilemma: how can you protect the creativity you rely on to pay your bills?