Living during the time of COVID19 is living in an age of uncertainty and grief. Grief for lives lost and also grief for all the big and small losses. The milestones – like birthdays, weddings, graduations, and anniversaries – that we could not celebrate in our usual ways. The annual vacations and parties that just didn’t happen. A myriad of feelings may arise: boredom at the lack of variety, sadness about the loss of normalcy, loneliness, anger, and fear about the future.
Artists have long given voice to the challenges faced. But one need not be a bonafide “artist” to benefit from expressing ourselves through creativity. Creative self-expression is our birthright. Young children sing, color, mold playdoh, create rhythms on drums, dance. Expressing ourselves through writing, art-making, music, dance, photography and more provides a meaningful outlet for our emotions and a way to process our experience and give voice to that which we may not know how to say aloud.
If you have a regular practice of writing, singing, playing an instrument, or expressing yourself through art, you may have been drawn to create more over the past five months. If you don’t already have a creative practice, get curious about what naturally appeals to you. Maybe you enjoyed painting when you were younger but fell away from it when you started working. Perhaps you have dreamed of writing down the stories of your life – or creating an entirely new universe for a science fiction novel. Maybe you love snapping pictures with your phone already – and think it could be fun to join a group of other photographers to embark on an odyssey of shared learning and adventure.
When we come together in community to create, we often connect deeply.
The very process of self-expression – and the vulnerability it takes to share
our work – can create an atmosphere of intimacy as we recognize the sacredness
of shared experience and the universality of our concerns. Local and national
groups and interactive programs are listed below. Live online classes in which
we have the opportunity to connect with other participants may be the most
rewarding choice to help stave off feelings of isolation emblematic of current
One of the creative practices sustaining me through the pandemic is writing. In April, I discovered the Isolation Journals. They are the brainchild of Suleika Jaouad who believes that “life’s interruptions are invitations to deepen our creative practice.” Collaborating with artists of all disciplines, she responded to the pandemic by creating a journey through 100 days of writing prompts. Readers were encouraged to share their writing in a dedicated Facebook group, and the results were inspiring. The project now has over 100,000 members spread across 100 countries. Her website includes all 100 prompts, featured writing by members, and an invitation to join the community and receive weekly journal prompts for your own wirting. Suleika describes the project as “our living archive of human creativity”, highlighting the project as a place where “stories of vulnerability become stories of resilience and strength that unite us as a community.” It is said that to be a great writer, you must write whatever you most fear writing. Taking risks to be real – and share our rawness with others – strengthens our capacity to face fears, find our voice, and go deeper still.
Creative writing need not be lengthy to be satisfying. Gotham Writers had a “silver linings” contest for the best 19-word story about a silver lining during COVID 19. It is challenging to write a story with only 19 words, but I certainly had fun trying. I shared the contest with friends and family. Not only was the process of writing our “silver lining” stories fun, it gave us an opportunity to connect beyond the routine “how are you?”
We are living through a remarkable time in history, and it is unmistakably hard. Listen to yourself and give voice to what lies within. As Bill Moyers said, “Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.” May your discoveries delight and surprise you – and foster deepening courage and connection to navigate the days ahead.
Elizabeth Venart, LPC,
NCC, is the Founder of the Resiliency Center and a Licensed Professional
Counselor specializing in working with Highly Sensitive Persons, artists,
entrepreneurs, and other therapists. With advanced training in EMDR Therapy and
IFS, she supports people in getting to the root of the places where they feel
stuck, so they can experience greater joy. A Certified Laughter Yoga teacher,
Elizabeth leads weekly zoom laughter classes and
infuses laughter into her work and her life. Learn more by visiting her website.