Rough times. Whether through internal reasons (such as ill health) or external reasons (events that happen to you), rough times visits us far more often than any of us would ever like. The question is, when the rough times hit, do you stop being creative? Do you feel defeated and now have to wait until you are better, for the muse to show up again?
I believe it’s extremely important for us to keep on creating even when life has taken a wrong turn somewhere and the muse has gone on a long-term holiday in Hawaii without you. Us creative people need to create. It’s like us humans need to breath. If we are not creating, we are not living.
Obviously, during rough times, you can’t go on like you did before. You can’t do the things you were doing because you are suffering. You are hurting and you need time to heal. But there is something you can do.
When you create through the rough times, the act of creating something keeps you going. It gives you a sense of having achieved something that day, even if it was the only thing you did. It also provides you with quiet, reflective time, but one where the pain you are going through is not the focus for once. I also believe that creating something truly helps with the healing process.
Tips on Creating Through the Rough Times
The main thing to remember when you are going through the rough times is to make the process of creating as easy as possible for you. This will probably mean doing something totally different from a creative project you normally do. You have to figure out what fits how you are right now, being kind and understanding towards yourself.
Pick an easy project to do. Don’t try to learn a new skill right at this moment. Instead, go back to your old and well loved craft, something you can do with almost your eyes closed. Something you don’t really have to think about how to do it. For me, that is crochet.
Pick a small project or a large project with small steps. Don’t pick a large project that requires you to spend hours everyday. Pick a project that you can pick up and put down as you feel able to do.
Pick an easy pattern. Projects with complex pattern where you need to follow row by row with a highlighter and counters are not the best when you are not feeling your best. Instead, choose patterns that are easy to remember and uses repetitive patterns.
Pick something with minimum design decision required. Making designs decisions all the time can become really exhausting when you are not 100%. Either pick a project with all the colours chosen for you, or pick a set of colours and then go for a random ordering of colours!
Pick bright happy colours. Just being around bright happy colours helps you feel better. If you can choose materials that are so very soft to the touch, even better.
An Example Project
For me, I go through regular rough times with my depression. It shows up at my door step at an alarming regularity – in January and July every year. They can last anywhere from few weeks to three months. Three months is actually a good length of time to make a crochet blanket.
When I feel the depression coming, I head over to a yarn store and buy a whole bunch of bright yarns. Then I make a crochet blanket. They always have randomness to the colour order so I don’t have to think about what colour to use next. I pick designs that have very simple pattern, either a granny square or a row-by-row of repetitive stitches.
In the evenings, or even during the day if I don’t feel up to doing anything else, I will sit there and crochet away, a stitch at a time. Sometimes I even just stay in bed and crochet, surrounded by countless balls of yarn. I get a few rows done. I can say to myself ‘at least I did three rows on the blanket today. I did something today.’ I know that by the time the blanket is done, my depression will have lightened.
Every day, I show up. I do the work I can do, and that is all that you can ask yourself right now. This won’t last forever, the pain will go, and you will heal. For now you are at least making something beautiful into this world.