I’ve come through the pandemic (not that we are through it) feeling a lack of creative momentum relative to what I enjoyed five years ago. I’m having great fun with the Mischief in Mayfair series, and the side project is pair of novellas I’ll publish with Erica Ridley next spring–novellas are always a frolic–but the queue behind those two projects is not full of characters clamoring for their HEAs.
I have some ideas, though in the past few months story premises have been slower to emerge, and my response to them has been less enthusiastic. Then I came across this article, about our collective loss of creativity and its fairly obvious causes. (Nod to Austin Kleon’s newsletter, and he IS creative, and the quotes are from his blog.) We are overscheduled and over-screen-timed, such that our minds have no time to breathe, wander, or explore how to connect distant dots. The lack of unstructured time has been getting worse for decades, and technology has accelerated the trend.
My Rogues to Riches series started one day when I was staring off into space, thinking about the glut of “duke books.” (Mind you, I love me a good duke book.) I asked myself: What is the farthest, most distant, different man from a duke? Being a lawyer, the answer that came to me was: A convicted murderer awaiting execution. No power, no hope, his privileges all down the jakes if any there ever were.
So how, I wondered, can I connect those two seemly distant dots? And off I went…
But questions like that can’t occur to me if I’m ALWAYS playing Solitaire, Cribbage, Hearts, Spider, or jigsaw puzzles, all of which I do on my computer much more now than I did eighteen months ago. They can’t occur to me if I’m walking on the tread desk instead of in new surrounds. They can’t occur to me if I’m taking fewer showers because I never leave the house (sorry for the TMI, but showers are magic for creativity). They can’t occur to me if I’m never in conversation with people who think differently from me.
And the pandemic has checked every one of those boxes in thick, stinky black magic marker. Oh. Oh, really.
I did not get into this low-creative RPMs situation over night, and I probably won’t pull out of it just because I went for a three-mile walk today (saw a deer!), but I can work at reversing the direction of my inertia, and hope some interesting premises sneak up on me in the shower soon (preferably involving lonely dukes or fellows of that ilk).
Has your relationship to screen time changed as a result of the pandemic? Are there ways the road back to normal isn’t following quite the path you’d envisioned? I will add three commenters to my ARC list for A Rogue in Winter!