Ways to get creative (recorded during coronavirus but applicable any time!)
This is a summary of my podcast interview with Christie Glascoe, otherwise known as ChatterBox Christie, an Atlanta-based author, editor, screenwriter, creative coach, and professional life-lesson-learner. She’s trying to make adulting fun while putting her gift of the gab to good use! Christie is very funny so check out the audio version of the interview here.
We are forever changed by coronavirus. Social distancing is impacting almost everyone. To get back to doing the things you love to do, you’re going to have to be uncomfortable for a while. But this can also be an ideal time to explore and develop your own creativity.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for 20 years and I’ve been working from home all that time. Being a writer for 10 of those 20 years, I’ve lived a very sedentary, inside my house kind of life. This is regular and the weirdest thing for me now is that there are more people in the house all the time. I don’t have the solitude and I am sharing devices. The biggest change for me is having to accommodate my regular daily schedule with everyone else’s like school work, which hasn’t been so bad.
I love it in a sense that for all the people who say that we have it so easy because we work from home, now they are going to see that it isn’t all roses to work from home. You have to decide between work, work and home work – because everything is staring at you constantly and begging for attention. It’s like you have a deadline and laundry!
Corporations are now realizing they can actually let people work from home and may see that their workers are quite possibly more productive at home because they are relaxed and they can take breaks. I’m hoping people who are working from home are doing what they are supposed to do so that they can keep their jobs and can possible shift to a more flexible lifestyle when this is all over and see that it can work.
If everybody does their part, so much can change for the better. Everybody is going to breathe a little easier and life goes on. The world will keep spinning and the economy could really thrive from this experiment.
It’s a sucky way to learn though. But it’s an opportunity for women like us in our age bracket and men too. We were trying to figure out what we are going to do in our next chapter and now it is being thrown at us. If you weren’t working or contemplating retirement or just thinking I want something different for this time in my life, now you’ve got some time to think about it and really actually put some effort into it and do adulting differently.
The environment is already improving radically because we’re not moving around. We’re not polluting the air since we’re not driving. We’re not doing anything that emits toxins which is great. It’s almost like from a cosmic sense that Mother Nature is sidelining us so she can repair herself. We’re all connected to this world whether you realize it or not.
It’s like let’s put you inside for a minute and cleanse. While the earth is cleansing, it will also be our opportunity to cleanse ourselves, to rethink things, to realign ourselves with our purpose, to realize there are different ways of doing things versus how we thought everything had to be done and I’m hoping that’s what’s happening now that we are all taking a second.
I love seeing how people are getting creative now. With say, this is my work and now I can’t do it and how can I still do it in this new normal. I love seeing just how innovative people are being. Now is the time and if you didn’t think you can be creative, I’m hoping it’s hitting you now like a thunderbolt.
For me as a writer, writing is not just my work, it is air. I’m always writing, whether for a client, for a screenplay or just journaling. That is how from a very young age, not having many friends, not being able to confide in my parents, just being very isolated and very alone, writing whether it’s just a journal or writing stories is how I got through.
It was my therapy and that’s how I let all my feelings out when I had no one to let them out to. This was when therapy was pretty much non-existent to kids unless you have a problem. It is really a taboo for most people especially in the black community. I didn’t really hear the word therapy until I was an adult. Writing was my way out and it always has been.
What I’m seeing with people who aren’t like me, who aren’t used to this lifestyle, in less than a week, they’ve gone from corporate high level employee to in-house home schooler, especially those who have little kids and they are losing their minds. They have no outlet or feel like I don’t know what to do with this. I‘ve been suggesting, have you ever thought of journaling, or do anything or even draw stick figures! Now I’m trying to encourage and think of what was that list of things that you said you couldn’t do before because you didn’t have time.
But now, my work has changed a little bit even already being at home because my clients’ life has changed. My kids are now home. So I ask myself, how can I be innovative with what I am doing now? I’m seeing a desire for people to see this as an opportunity that we have been given and to also save our sanity. Please also try to see that there’s an opportunity for you to tap into those gifts that you have left dormant especially at this age.
We are the forgotten generation, Gen X and even some of the Baby Boomers as well. We are of that generation where we work hard at a company until you’re dead or if you’re lucky enough to retire, retire. But then they don’t tell you what to do after you retire. We are sandwiched between the work hard Baby Boomer mentality and the people we gave birth to or our younger siblings who go – YOLO (you only live once), I am going to do things that make me happy.
We want to be free just like that too but we’re still working very hard. But still, we have the best of both worlds. We have the knowledge and wisdom that were given by our Baby Boomer generation. We have survival instincts that our parents didn’t have and the younger generations. They have apps, we had maps. If technology fails, we can still survive. I think because of our generation and what we know, what we were armed with from our parents plus married to this modern technology, we could really do something with this time.
I’m seeing something really interesting with the younger generation. I think they’re very talented especially because they have a little bit more of the tech savviness and they know how to manipulate it a little better than we do. I still think though that we can take our old school expertise and marry it with what we have available today and do some amazing things.
My whole philosophy of creative adulting came from knowing that I am a single mom. I have a budget that is tight, I am trying to hold my family together but also, I want to enjoy myself. I would like to feel fulfilled. I would like to do the things that I want to do too. Our older generation and how we grew up, we were taught that if you have family, say goodbye to your dreams. It’s all about work hard and feed your family. Don’t worry about being happy even to the point that I’m being told by older people not to worry about enjoying my job because you just need a job. But I thought, wouldn’t I do better at a job if I’m enjoying it? I’m a human being, I deserve to be happy and I deserve to enjoy my life. How do I do that given my circumstances? And it’s all about being creative about how you do it.
I got the idea from Will Smith. When he turned 50, he said that he’s going to live his life as fully as possible. You think well, you are a celebrity, of course you can do that. But I started to think, he’s living life on his best terms within his capabilities to do so. I have to think about how I can do it within my capabilities. I can’t go try to be Will Smith.
There’s no way in the world that I’m ever going to look like JLo, I need to not try. I have to do things within my realm of making it happen. How can you be YOULo within your capabilities? You want to do something JLo within your capabilities of doing it so why not try to work with what you’ve got and enjoy the present. Don’t project so far into the future that you’re like, I’m never going to get there. Don’t be so held back by your past like I should have gone to school for creative writing and now, I’ll be a best-selling author, not necessarily. You can start writing today.
Don’t worry about being the best-selling author, just worry about writing that story that’s been pressing in your heart for the last 30 years and then we’ll go from there. Because that’s what’s going to bring you joy. It’s finishing that book – doing something you love, finding the time every day. Take that time to do that, and break those old molds that we can’t be happy because we have chosen this life as parents or we’ve chosen this life as a CEO person instead of an artist. You can still be that artist. You can still have that creative outlet. You just have to be creative on how you choose to do it. No, you are not going to do it like some celebrity that you admire. You don’t have their life. You are not them but you are you.
To help people get their stories out, I start with looking at what your life is in this moment. What are you doing, what kind of work do you do, what is your schedule? And I try to dissect their day. I find out where you have time you didn’t think you had time. It’s not like filling every second of your day with something, because I am not an advocate of that. We all need rest. We need to recharge and we need to give ourselves a break. That’s also something women our age were taught when we were young – that we should put ourselves last, we don’t get to rest.
We are last on our own list. We should at least be third. Everybody says be first, I would love to be first but not every day. I can’t be first every day, that’s just not reality. I am not saying that it’s a crazy notion to put yourself first. I think in a lot of ways we can put ourselves first in little ways. But we do know that sometimes a child’s need, or if anybody is taking care of elderly parents, their needs are going to come first upon occasion. But the trick is not to forget about yourself.
We have to prioritize our own needs and our own self-care because if we go down, then everybody goes down. Trying to help people see that you can be a little selfish. If it’s hard for you to embrace that you need to put your needs first, because you think that’s selfish, then start off with little things, just little self-care things. Before you get into the writing, you have to start prioritizing yourself, because if you won’t start doing the little stuff then you won’t do the bigger things.
It starts with putting yourself first because if you don’t, then you’ll always think that I do not have time to write a book, I never have time to write a book. Can you write a whole book in a week? No, probably not. You’re not Stephen King and cannot sequester yourself in an office in your house where nobody bothers you for a month. But now maybe you can adjust that, a little bit.
I ask my clients, now that we are under this quarantine, how does that change? Do you have more time to write? I find myself as a creativity coach mostly focused on writing, but it’s really more of helping people tap back into that creative outlet. I know someone who was a wonderful artist. A painter who stopped painting, for whatever reason. That has backed up on her and it comes out in other ways like excessive shopping because she’s not letting it out in a better way.
Not being creative can back up on you and come out in some other unproductive way because you are repressing that urge. People who used to garden but don’t anymore because they let life take over. People who use to knit but don’t anymore because they let life take over. Life is slowing down now. Life is changing now. You are at home, you don’t have to turn on the TV, you can get back to that thing you love. Do you have a guitar in the corner of your basement collecting dust that you haven’t picked up in years because you didn’t have time? Go down there and strum a little bit. Remember how that felt. Remember how writing stories felt when you were a kid.
We are the generation that used to play. We were outside. We didn’t sit in front of the television all the time. If you are like us, you work from home and we’re used to it, but if you are that person who went out to work every day and had that set 8-hour day and you are in that generation that you are outside until it gets dark and then you came home, this new normal is something you thought you wanted.
Now of course if you dream like I did of being on Broadway, you may at least dance around in your family room. Turn on any sound track and go for it. Allow yourself. Go ahead and do it, whatever it is. You can bring writing into those things after you give yourself permission to pick up that guitar, pick up that ball of yarn and do something out of it or paint something.
Sit down with your coffee or your wine or whatever it is you want to be drinking and just muse about the experience. How did it make you feel? Did you come back alive? Did you notice anything about that? Did it bring you back to a time when you are really happy? Don’t you want to keep that feeling going? Why not allow yourself a little time? It doesn’t have to be a lot but just a moment a day or at least once a week.
I try to make Fridays my free for all day. I try not to do a whole lot of work on Fridays. That’s when I try to tap into my own personal creativity because it is extra difficult for me because I use my creativity for work and I’m always helping other people with their creativity. I have to remember to save a little something for myself and that’s hard. I’m always giving it away and I have to remember to save something for myself because I have my own projects and own work that I want to do. I have my own gifts that I want to bring into the world.
For everyone else, I feel like we were born for this, for this moment. We have the tools. We were born for this type of thing. We can withstand whatever it is that we’re going through right now. We have the opportunity to do something amazing with it if we allow that. Even if it’s not just something amazing that will benefit others. We can at least get a sense of self that I think we got away from because of what we were taught and the things we grew up believing, how life works, how adulthood works. We can dispel some myths if we take a minute to think about it.
If you are well, and you have the moment to do something positive in the midst of all this negative, why not? Just because someone else is miserable doesn’t mean you have to be. Yes, you can be compassionate. I’m not at all dismissing the agony that a lot of people are going through. But you have opportunity here. You have opportunity here to make your life into something that will carry beyond this crisis. Why not? Why not seize it?
Find out more about Christie on her website ChatterBoxCristie.com
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