Coronavirus, crisis and creativity

What a year 2020 has turned out to be so far.

First, it was the start of an exciting new decade. Then a global pandemic hit and the world went into lockdown.

Next, race equality protesters marched across cities and tore down statues against the backdrop of a looming economic disaster. Followed by a huge explosion in Beirut before our attention was turned towards the outcome of the divisive US election.

Now, once again, we’re in lockdown. And the year isn’t even over yet.

It almost sounds like the plot line to a Hollywood film. Except, well, it has all really happened.

This year we are experiencing a genuine crisis. Or, to be more exact, several crises. But what does all this talk about crisis have to do with creativity?

Actually, quite a lot.

“Every great change is preceded by chaos”

The above quote is by Deepak Chopra (according to my Google search) 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 crises rage on around the world, I predict a surge in creative output in the coming months and years.

In fact, it has already started through a rise in creative problem solving.

How many businesses have transformed their operations to comply with social distancing and lockdown measures? How many creative workers have diversified from their chosen niche after watching their usual markets evaporate?

No doubt these situations were painful and stressful. But people got creative and adapted because they had no other choice, which psychologists have identified as a common reaction to a crisis.

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 and ignore societal norms.

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

So far, we have only seen the first shoots of creativity in the form of survival. But let’s imagine what else could be possible in the future:

  • Amazing songs and books written as a result of the world being turned upside down
  • New careers forged and innovative businesses launched
  • An analogue revival to counteract digital technology fatigue
  • Advances in medical science
  • A slower pace of life
  • A stronger focus on wellbeing and community

Who knows? Anything could happen.

Final thoughts

Finally, as a conclusion, here’s a quick disclaimer.

This article has not been written to ignore the fact that the crises of 2020 have resulted in real suffering and injustice. Both of which have been acutely experienced by communities around the world, with the likelihood of more to follow.

But there has to be a silver lining in all of this. And a burst of creativity might just be it.

What do you think about the link between crisis and creativity? Feel free to get in touch at hello@hayleymaguire.com