Crisis and creativity

What a year 2020 is shaping up to be.

First, it was the exciting start of a new decade. Then a global pandemic hit followed by race equality protests sweeping across the world against the backdrop of a looming economic disaster. It almost sounds like the plot line to a Hollywood film. Except, well, it’s all really happening.

This is a genuine crisis. And for the first time in a long time not just something sensationalised by the media to sell more newspapers/attract more traffic/gain more viewers etc. etc.

But what does all this have to do with creativity? Actually, quite a lot.

“Every great change is preceded by chaos”

The above quote is by Deepak Chopra and it couldn’t be more relevant than in 2020.

Chaos, like a crisis, is unpredictable and uprooting. But it can also be inspiring – at least once the initial shock has worn off.

As a writer, I know that inspiration is fundamental for creativity and, as the current crisis rages on, I predict a surge in creative output in the coming months and years. From myself and others.

We have already seen a rise in creative problem solving. Look at how businesses have transformed their operations to comply with social distancing. Or how creatives have diversified from their chosen niches after watching their usual markets evaporate.

There is more to this than just my own observations though. A link between crisis and creativity has also been analysed by psychologists.

A time to break the rules

Back in March, during the early days of the pandemic, an article in Psychology Today looked at why creative problem-solving increases during a time of crisis.

The most interesting point (to me, anyway) was that any psychological barriers that people usually have when it comes to being creative fade away during a crisis. It also becomes more acceptable to break the rules – particularly when it comes to societal norms.

Basically, a crisis provides the freedom to be creative. Something that is not always available during ‘normal’ times.

As we are only a few months into the current situation, so far we have only seen the first shoots of creativity. For a second though, let’s imagine what else could be possible.

What about all of the songs and books that might be written as a result of the world being turned upside down? What about the new career directions? Advances in medical science?

Literally anything could happen.

Of course, the other reality is that a crisis leads to suffering and injustice. Both of which are being acutely experienced by communities around the world right now and can’t be ignored.

But there has to be a silver lining as well, and a burst of creativity might just be it.

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