Last week, my friend Brian asked for advice on a title. Two of his options were:
- How to Stay Focused During Lockdown
- The Granny Rule of Motivation
I told him to go with the second. After nearly a month of nothing but news related to the crisis, I have, quite frankly, grown sick of hearing about it. I can’t imagine I’m the only one.
Yes, we get it. The world has changed. We live in a new paradigm. We have to follow new rules. And we’re all stuck at home more than we’d like. As much as we wish it would, none of this will disappear as quickly as it has burst into our lives — and it’s about time we acknowledge it and move on.
When you face a drastic, new reality, monitoring further, incremental changes to it will feel tempting but do little for your adaptation to the situation. Another 20,000 infected? Another month of not traveling? And? What are you going to do right now? That’s the part that matters — and it doesn’t depend on the latest bullets in the ticker.
If you’re a creative, it’s alluring to switch to crisis coverage mode. You’d feel up to date, and you’d get some relief from covering aspect of the global disaster — but you wouldn’t be doing yourself or your audience any favors, unless you already covered the news in real-time before catastrophe struck. Soon, all your creations will be driven by fear, confidence will sap from your work, and you’ll find yourself with comments like, “When did this guy turn so bitter?”
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help. Art was made for this. Little else can offer a stronger sense of connection in troubling times. But you don’t have to remind us of the dark clouds over our heads in every installation. You can just help. An article about motivation will help those who need it, regardless of why they need it. They know. That’s enough.
Bending all your art to fit the current news cycle is a little bit like a pharmacist reminding people of their diseases every time she hands a remedy over the counter. “Here’s the cream for the rash on your foot!” Even if she knew, I’m not sure I’d want her to yell it in my face and across the store. In the same vein, assuming people need your articles to solve certain, quarantine-specific issues is presumptuous — and not required to support them.
There will be creative ways to handle our current situation, and some might necessitate shining a light on specific examples from the news. Most of them, however, will be as evergreen as they always were; 1000-year-old solutions to all-too-human problems. This isn’t the world’s first health crisis, and it won’t be the last.
Creativity, perspective, mental toughness, we may need these things now more than ever, but, at the end of the day, they’re still things we’ll always need. Adding “in times of” to every title you write during those times won’t change that, and it won’t make us feel any better. Provide what we need, but don’t worry about why you have to provide that particular answer at this particular time.
Be helpful, and don’t be a nag about it. If all we do is follow your example, it’ll still be the most useful thing you ever do.
Previously Published on Medium