"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home."
Being a creative can be a completely, utterly, heartbreakingly thankless job. For some of us, it might not even be a job yet. It's a passion, a side hustle that we work tirelessly to turn into a full-time gig. You don't work typical hours. You don't have a typical weekend. The times to rest and relax are often in short supply. There was never really a playbook for our kind of lifestyle, but if there was, it got thrown out the window roughly one month ago.
It's no secret that this pandemic has shifted--and is still shifting--the ground beneath our feat.
As we struggle to cope with lost gigs, lost opportunities and lost income, we have to rethink what our hustle and grind looks like.
Some artists are getting crafty, turning livestreams into revenue streams and directing their fans to Patreon and Bandcamp. Others are taking this time to write songs, or pursue other creative passions. These are great ways to stay on the grind when everything seems up in the air. But more than that, they help us stay sane, and give us an outlet that was recently taken from us.
Recently, I talked to musician Abraham Alexander about creativity, writing and isolation. He shared many poignant perspectives on this pandemic, but one has stuck with me:
"Whenever I start being cruel to myself, or comparing myself to other people, I remind myself that I’m on my own path, and I focus on what I need," Alexander said. "Right now, I need more isolation. It’s unfortunate that we’re all being forced into isolation right now, but maybe I can turn this into a positive. I can focus on my work, I can re-center myself, and most of all, I can be kind."
There is still no one-size-fits-all approach. There is still no roadmap. But there are always songs to be written, paintings to be painted, or breaks to be taken. There are always passion to be explored, even as you do so at your own pace.
So what does a creative grind look like in a pandemic? Whatever keeps you sane and fuels your passion.