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Lockdown life and trying to stay creative during a pandemic

I ddarllen yr erthygl yma yn y Gymraeg, cliciwch yma.

So here we are, in the middle of a pandemic. You would think that there's no better time for creatives and artists to make new work and find time to be inspired by the world around them. Well, I can tell you that it's not how I currently feel! For those people that are fortunate enough to be feeling invigorated, inspired and excited about their current circumstances - I'm really happy for you! But I can guess, from speaking to others in the art sector, that life is never that simple.

We all had such optimistic thoughts of what we could do during this lock down: learn another language, improve your skills or finally look into that camera course that you've always wanted to do, but never had the 'time.'

I suppose, what I've realised, as a creative thinker, is that those feelings of being inspired or problem-solving are the best moments of all. When you look into a space and get lost in your own thoughts, with ideas flashing in front of you. They may be few and far between, but those are the feelings that keep me wanting to get back into the studio, and it's those feelings that make you strive to be better, work harder. These feelings, personally, have not been around that much during lock down. Feeling the pressure to create things, with people telling you 'you've got loads of time now, I'm expecting loads of new work from lock down!' Or not even being sure how you feel about everything that's happening at the moment. Thinking you're having a 'good day' which ends up being an awful afternoon, or starting working on a project, and then realising that the whole day has gone, and you have no idea what you've done with your afternoon.

For me, the most effective way to feel productive, is to work with a journal. My journal has been my best friend in the last few months, whether it's somewhere to express my frustrations, to state what I've been up to that day, or to write down any new ideas, or long term goals to continue to work towards. Feeling trapped is inevitable, but having this journal has categorised my days into memories that I can look back at with a positive light, something productive that I've done each day.

A friend of mine explained an analogy to me, which I've been using daily since hearing about it. In life, everyone has so many 'marbles,' depending on your current situation, and your tolerance levels, the happier and contented you feel, the more marbles you have. Some people are marble givers, they gift you a marble, through a fun experience, or a kind message or phone call. Some people can naturally be marble takers too. Due to the circumstances, and our tolerance levels at the moment, I might only have five marbles per day to play with, compared to my usual 20 marbles. This might then mean that one small thing could go wrong, my mold could break or collapse, and that would be too much for that day. No more marbles left.

In lock down, it can be so easy to concentrate on the negative aspects of life, and what the pandemic has taken away from you. Not being able to see friends and family, having to cancel plans (my wedding is included in this!) or having your freedom taken away. I've been trying to concentrate on the small things that can invigorate the soul. Going for a walk in the sun, hearing the birds sing or dancing with friends and family on zoom. I suppose, putting life into perspective, appreciating the little things in life and having the attitude that 'this too shall pass.'

In the last week or so, I have finally found my making mojo, and have been making some new pieces inspired by origami and geometric vessels and glass work. For a while I couldn't get my hand on pottery plaster, (or that's what I kept saying to myself! Maybe it's taken me this long to be able to settle into this new 'normal' and start making again). I feel lucky that I have a studio at home and more recently I've been able to carry on making, and I'm glad that I've finally been able to start some new designs. I keep having to tell people that I speak to, 'stop being so hard on yourself. We're not working from home, we're at home, trying to work.'

Remember, you might not have as many marbles in your bag as usual - but you should always be kind to yourself. Some of the things that I tell myself, I would never think to say to a friend or loved one, 'you haven't done anything today' or 'why did you try and do it that way, of course it was never going to work.'

If you are a maker, don't fret - your mojo will come back, and being in lock down, it's okay to not be sure how you feel from day to day, or hour to hour. Give yourself a break, do something you enjoy and keep telling yourself 'this too shall pass,' because it will, and we'll all be stronger and better people having coped with this pandemic. We'll again be able to hug friends and family, go to that craft fair and have that wedding you've always dreamt about. It will come. Things may currently be postponed, but friendship and happiness will never be cancelled.

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