2017. How’s it been for you? You probably can’t answer in just one word. Twelve months is a long time and life has a habit of changing rapidly. However, as we collectively race towards the finish line now is the time to pause and reflect. Perhaps you had a great start to the year but things haven’t been so brilliant recently? It could be that after a slow start you found your mojo and have gone on to bigger and better things? Or maybe, like me, you had a big burst of creativity and energy at the beginning followed by a lull, an anti-climax and an almost complete artistic draught before another eruption of projects in the last few months.
Whatever your situation or what sort of art you make, life isn’t and cannot be brilliant all the time (whatever Instagram implies). We all have stressful days, weeks and sometimes even months. We all get tired. As young people we face a variety of pressures whether that be from exams, relationships, employment or a list of conflicting demands on our physical and mental wellbeing.
So when life gets hard what is one of the first things that drop off your ‘to do’ list? I bet it’s the creative stuff. As an avalanche of competing demands come our way we often push the things we value most to the back burner.
Well, this year I’ve decided to do things differently. In 2018, I’m making myself a promise and I hope you will join in too. When life gets hard, don’t give up on the creative stuff. Keep it going.
It sounds counterproductive. You might ask why when I’m snowed under with exam revision should I still go to my weekly dance class? Why when I’m looking for a new job should I stop and write a poem? Why when I’m really upset should I still audition for that play?
My simple answer is that doing one thing will help the other. Some of the best work I’ve ever made has been during challenging or stressful times. Creativity provides sanctuary. A few years ago I went through a period when I was feeling burnt out, emotionally and physically. Around the same time I signed up to do an amateur dramatics play, despite already being busy. What to an outsider might seem like another source of stress in fact became a solution. For three months I knew that whatever was going on in my life outside of the rehearsal room, twice a week I could leave it at the door and concentrate on the play. This search for escapism in turn made me more focused on the project and the fun and companionship of being involved relieved some of the stress of a difficult few months. Creativity also breeds creativity. Expressing yourself artistically can unlock inventive solutions to life’s problems that you may never have thought of without a break and a change of perspective.
Don’t wait for the right time to in your busy life to make art. Make time for art in your busy life and whether life is ‘couldn’t be better, fantastic!’ at the moment or ‘I’m having a bit of a rough time actually’ you will always have a way to boost your mood and get the most out of life.
I wish you a happy and creative 2018!