It's no secret that the last two and a half years have been tough. We've gone from locked down in our homes to out and about freely once vaccines were developed, then back on lock down because of omicron and its variants. Rinse, lather, repeat….

This constant state of worry and concern has taken a real toll on our collective psyches. One part of our psyche that has suffered is creativity. In recent discussions with Melanie, I let it be known that my creative well was EMPTY. Zero, zilch, nada. The creative energy bank was penniless. These discussions centered around this very editorial and my difficulty finding a thread. Every other month I put together this editorial, and every time, I try to have something to say. This time, I had zero. Until this morning.

YES! The concept for this editorial sprang forth into my mind while doing my morning pages at 4:30 a.m. As evidence, I present the note card where I jotted down rough ideas for this editorial, the central theme being how to recover creativity in an environment where we're still bombarded with negative data on what feels like a daily basis.

Figure 1: Notes to myself
Figure 1: Notes to myself

Recovering Creativity Step 1: Take Needed Down Time

The first step I took on this road to recovery was some sorely needed down time. All work and no play make Rodney a dull boy. I took two weeks off from work and spent time with my family. The first week I went to London with my son Isaiah. He'd never been to the UK, so this was a real treat as I got to experience it through his fresh set of eyes.

We visited the Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel. This is by far one of my favorite parts of London, as it's basically a temple to creativity. Every time I go to London, I make sure to visit this cathedral of paint to see what new and interesting graffiti has been added. Figure 2 shows a small portion of some of the awesome spray paint art. This semi-seedy location is a Zen zone for me.

Figure 2: Great art is inspiring.
Figure 2: Great art is inspiring.

Recovering Creativity Step 2: Step Away from the Tech and Get Outside

After a week in London, we flew home and set out - a mere 36 hours later - to spend the second week enjoying family time in the Colorado Rockies. This part of the trip had its own form of creativity recovery in the forms of hiking, spelunking, and white-water rafting. Yes, I went white-water rafting. Getting outdoors does wonders for my psyche.

Recovering Creativity Step 3: Revisit Old Creativity

The next step was to revisit a project put on hold right at the start of 2020. This project was to develop a keynote deck for a conference in Canada. In late 2019, I was invited to give a keynote and had made good progress on my slide deck until COVID ground everything to a halt. It's 2022 and this conference is back on track and my keynote slots have been re-secured. Uh oh! Guess I'd better finish that deck. SET FREAK OUT TO ON!

This endeavor had me a bit concerned. I was much more optimistic at the beginning of 2020 than I am currently. I was unsure if I could get back into that optimistic frame of mind to build and deliver what a keynote should be: an inspiring story to get folks jazzed for the conference they're attending. So I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my slide deck to be greeted by a cool collection of ideas and stories that provide the backbone of this keynote. The optimism was there, the inspiration was there, and I immediately found that the certainty was there. I had the creativity I needed to complete this keynote.

Recovering Creativity Step 4: Embrace What Works

My final step (at least for the purposes of this editorial) in helping on the road to recovering my creativity is to embrace what works. In this case, it's my morning pages. I have an admission, though. I did morning pages faithfully every day for over a year and it gave me untold bursts of creativity and honestly helped me get through the first year of COVID lock down. As things typically go, I stopped doing the pages faithfully and eventually stopped altogether. Well, three days ago, I made the decision to return to the pages and it took three days of fighting the NEGS (my word for negativity, or the gremlins that feed your doubt) to keep moving forward through the pages, and today, the pages delivered.

Recovering Creativity Step 5: Keep Optimistic!

Times have been tough and they may continue to be rough. It's okay. It can be difficult to keep your creative well full and, in all reality, sometimes it just gets empty. Remember: You're not alone, even if you sometimes find yourself creatively drained.

We all fall down sometimes. Stay optimistic. We'll get through this together.