All of April, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t think. My brain couldn’t process anything productive.
It was frustrating and I kept feeling guilty about it.
The other day, while scrolling one of the socials, I came across a well-meaning social post about Einstein who wrote part of his theories of relativity and motion under lockdown during Great Plague of London (the post was probably based on this article
last year by The Washington Post).
The post suggested that you’re under lockdown, why not write your next novel? Why Netflix your time away? In other words, remember the guilt I mentioned?
I’ve put myself through pressure like this before.
Maybe you have too. Being the product of a data-based modern world that rewards productivity and efficiency, we all constantly feel guilty when we don’t produce things.
When I’m relaxing, or lazing or even daydreaming or reading – activities that I know help the brain create, think and get better ideas - there’s a nag in my brain that keeps countering these down times with productivity prompts. An author I know online wrote ten books a year! I should NOT take a break for I’ve produced only one. Another author has sold that many books. This one keeps doing events.
My society, peers and myself, perhaps even you, look at creativity as a productive machine that should produce more and more.
Put out new products in the market so we can get a good economic value for them (aka make them a bestseller). Isn’t that what success is for most of us?
The truth is comparing productivity in creativity or forcing your brain through creative churns DOES NOT WORK.
We’re going through a tough time. Even if you are lucky to have health and money to sustain you, and a family that’s healthy too, you’re going through a seriously stressful time. Every day, you’re being exposed to media – relentlessly – on Whatsapp messages, on Twitter and Facebook and even in the news.
We’re scrolling through one tragedy after another, endlessly, without respite.
It’s okay to feel anxious and want to zone out.
It’s okay for you to give your brain some rest.
It’s okay to be selfish about this and NOT create things.
These letters to you are helping me, dear reader, find my creativity again. Find the creative activity that gives your brain rest, that sparks your creativity further. Don’t get bogged down by productivity expectations.
I bet Einstein never bothered to be productive at all times. And we don’t know about all the hard times he went through, all the daily failure and ridicule he faced in his scientific journey.
The story only has the rosy apple that fell from the tree.