Fragile, resilient. Perceptive, narrow-minded. Reclusive, convivial. As writers we are all these things and more. We are the canaries in the coal mine, the watchers against the dark, the mirrors of society. But if we are empaths and mirrors, what do we do when society has a really bad day? Or a really bad week? Or months? Or a year?
If you were fortunate enough to listen to Rebecca Day’s session at the London Screenwriters Festival Online on February 7th, "Where's your head at? Mastering creative uncertainty in 2021," you would have heard some strategies about new ways of thinking about yourself and your work. In particular, Rebecca discussed the crucial importance of mental health and wellness during this time of unprecedented stress. It was a revelation to me.
The audience for this talk was specifically writers, but the message translates to all creatives. Interestingly, Ms. Day remarked that freelance writers are almost uniquely suited to cope with difficult times of uncertainty. The very precariousness of our career trajectory means we are more dogged and resilient than most. However, there’s a point at which even the most nimble freelancers can be overcome with bad news and uncertain circumstances, such as the events of the past year. It’s what we do next that matters.
Rebecca focused on provocative questions:
Like her co-presenter Lucy Van Smit, she urged writers toward greater self-care, with the caveat that without it, our productivity, and even our lives, could be in danger.
Lucy focused on humans’ physical responses to stress, with surprising findings from neuroscience about how our bodies and minds react and how to combat the reactions.
Tips on how to stay creative during uncertain times:
All of these tips can directly help relieve stress and generate creativity. The most basic tip of all: to avoid “freeze breathing” (the behavior we manifested when we saw a predator in the wild) which can occur when we read emails or texts. Her remedy - if we consciously breathe slowly in and out, we can train our bodies not to “freeze breath” so often, thus greatly reducing our anxiety level.
Rebecca Robinson is a writer and producer based in Vancouver, Washington. The lockdown afforded her the time and space to create the Piercing Time podcast, which can be found at www.piercingtimepodcast.com, as well as the time to create a fuller TV adaptation of the story entitled Angleterre, which is currently being shopped around the major streaming houses. She can be contacted through her Facebook page for Piercing Time or through Stage 32, of which she is an active member.
More Stage 32 blogs by Rebecca:
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