“ Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a pandemic,” say the various productivity gurus. “Why can’t you?”
Aside from the utter silliness of each of us having a Lear in our heads just waiting for a once-a-century plague to break out, I have been shocked to find so many people believing that the COVID year of 2020 should have been more productive for them.
These sorts of crazy productivity cheerleaders bug me too. I mostly tend to think this stuff is more about them trying to keep cranking out content they can monetize than any real belief that people should have been finding lots of inspiration and creative energy over the last nine months.
Some of this advice is probably honest and well-meaning, though. For the productivity guru-types who really do think we should all have been using our time during the pandemic to crank out the masterpieces that have been hidden away inside us, I’d suggest that they need to reconsider this notion of “free time.” Not being able to go anywhere and—for many of us—no longer having a job because of the pandemic has not magically freed up lots of time, energy, and attention for creative pursuits. Instead, we are spending that time and energy worrying about whether we or any of our friends and family will get sick and possibly die, or managing kids through remote learning, or wondering if we will be able to pay the rent or mortgage, or lying awake at night considering the possibility that society will collapse, or a million other worries and real problems.
So, yeah—let’s not beat ourselves up for not feeling particularly creative.