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Creative Resilience

“Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.” —Albert Einstein

There’s resilience of self and creative resilience. The term “creative resilience” is more often used pertaining to the effects of turmoil and change in the work place while still remaining a productive team member. What does this have to do with writing, you might ask.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about creative people who feel they must suffer for their art and I brought to light the fact that turmoil and stress have the opposite affect on the emotional animal that is my creativity— it goes into hiding, under a bed piled with gone wrongs, in the dark, unable to be reached no matter how far I stretch my fingers to grasp a mere edge and coax it forward. This is not exactly conducive to writing as a career.

Resilience of self I’ve got covered thanks to the multiple punches life likes to throw, got the t-shirt. Creative resilience— in terms of writing— is the new challenge I’m undertaking. I’m stubborn and refuse to be held back from what I want— success in writing. Writing waits for no man, or woman in my case, and life isn’t about to get less stressful. The only choice is to build new synapses focused on creative productivity amid change.

What does that entail?

Much like self resilience, the first step is to tame the commotion rioting around, and within, you. Faced with turbulences in life/work situations, connect with what is truly in your power to control. Assess the situation and determine what factors in the maelstrom are, in fact, controllable. Start there. The ones that are not, push aside and focus on later. Once you have a handle on those elements that respond to guidance, the less manageable factors will seem reduced in number. Breathe.

Find meaning in hardship. With some aspects now manageable, look at what is left over. Change your perspective and approach this information from a new direction. Lessons are learned in the most difficult times. What meaning can you bring to the new position in which you find yourself? It may not be a learning opportunity that you wanted or anticipated, but tough times teach valuable lessons. Make a connection between the difficulties you are having and why it’s important to swim through that muck.

Having reframed your perspective, you may find that turmoil has made it difficult for you to harness your creativity via your preferred medium. Seek out alternative approaches of creative expression. For the writer, it could be drawing, for the painter it could be music. The healing properties of creativity can be harnessed multimodally. Bridge the chasm you feel is between your muse and yourself.

Open up and surround yourself with your support network. Writers have beta readers, writing groups, online forums, but don’t discount family, friends, or work colleagues. Bounce your ideas off those who have your best interests at heart. They may have constructive ideas to share that extend your own plan toward fruition. These are some of the people who know you best and how you work. They might just know how to help as well.

Finally, choose optimism over pessimism. It is too easy to sit by and wallow in your own misery. That will get you no where, fast. Visualize yourself already successful on the other side of this strife. Write a projected plan, the steps you’ll take to get there, and have confidence that you can achieve your goals. Just beware of escapist behaviors— over-working, substance abuse, emotional outbursts— none of these avoidance tactics will move you forward. “Write drunk, edit sober,” often misattributed to Hemingway, wasn’t meant to be good career advice. Work hard, but make time for yourself and spoil yourself once in a while during the process. You deserve it.

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