Why promises of a 'creative renaissance' in the pandemic fell so flat

Why promises of a 'creative renaissance' in the pandemic fell so flat

05/25/2021

Remember back in lockdown 1.0, when people kept reminding us that Shakespeare wrote Antony and Cleopatra while isolating during the plague?

With the world shutting down and there being, quite literally, nothing to do – people were predicting that a great ‘creative renaissance’ was to follow the outbreak of the pandemic.

The isolating nature of lockdown (and all the extra time on our hands) meant that we could finally tick off all the things we’d always wanted to achieve – be it writing a book, creating art or starting our own business ventures. 

But, let’s be honest, the pandemic hasn’t been the most inspiring backdrop.

Between death tolls, health anxiety and social restrictions, inspiration has been pretty hard to come by. 

This, mixed with the fact that we were stuck inside for months on end, explains why people have struggled to live up to their big creative lockdown plans.

Instead, many have been left very uninspired. We’ve even found a term to express how we’ve been feeling – languishing – which basically means stagnant and demotivated.

While some turned to crafts and hobbies to fill the monotonous hours – others really struggled to put their creative plans in action.

This is exactly what happened to Beth Hannelly.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Like many, I had big dreams at the start of lockdown to use the time effectively. I love illustration and wanted to channel my frustrations into creating and selling my digital artwork. I also had dreams of writing a book. 

‘However, after those initial few months of motivation and a need to express myself, the lockdown blues hit. Not only had I lost all my social skills but I had also lost all my inspiration. 

‘It’s surprising how much the mundanity of what life once was kept me on my toes and my mind moving.’

Beth adds that while she was fortunate enough to keep her job, that lack of human connection and the restrictive nature of lockdown had a huge impact on her creativity. 

She adds: ‘Not just that, those first super motivated feelings went out the window, essentially I was a bit of a robot, eat, sleep, work, repeat kind of vibe.’

Thankfully, now restrictions are lifting she’s looking ahead.

Beth adds: ‘With the reopening of life, I can already feel those creative juices flowing through my system and I’m certainly beginning to feel more inspired. ‘

Viva Andrada O’Flynn is another individual who feels the pandemic has stripped away the things she would usually turn to for inspiration.

She started out feeling invigorated and ready to pursue her creative passions – but as the weeks of lockdown went on, her plans never materialised.

Viva says: ‘I’ve been wanting to write a book and sell my art this year. I’ve been occupied with many various tasks. At the start of lockdown last year, it felt like I had all the time to do all that I wanted to.

‘I felt inspired. I was winning awards from online contests: poetry (World Humanitarian Drive’s Covid Times Poetry Competition), art (Gloucester City Home’s Pride Art Competition) and photography (Winchcombe Country Show Best in Show). 

‘Then, as the Covid-19 death toll kept increasing around the world and as I kept watching news about updates, I was struggling to find inspiration within myself.

‘I thought I would be able to publish my book and sell my art. I may not have the energy and drive to do so now.

‘It’s quite difficult to find inspiration when many people are suffering around the world.’

Viva explains that the lack of new experiences has also played a role in her dwindling creativity over the past year.

She adds: ‘Facebook keeps giving alerts, reminding me what I did before Covid times. I used to get my inspiration being out and about, being surrounded by many people. 

‘Now it’s just me and my husband at home indoors. While I enjoy his company, I just miss the days when we didn’t have to worry about Covid and that we could travel anywhere we wished to. I also got a lot of my inspiration from traveling before.’

Someone else who has struggled to make her creative dreams a reality is Minreet Kaur.

She says: ‘I wanted to write a book on my dad, a skipping Sikh, and his history and life lessons – as he was a real inspiration last year and awarded an MBE.

‘I wanted to do something to share his story with others as he inspired so many, but I’m feeling really down since coming out of lockdown. I don’t have a job and I’m 40 and it’s finding the time to start writing but also how to go about it is hard.

‘I just feel I have no support of where to go or how to do it and, mentally, I feel drained. 

‘I’m feeling quite upset as this is a dream for me to write this.’

With her dad turning 75 this year, Minreet says she feels like now is the perfect time to write it – but this, in many ways, is another added pressure.

She adds: ‘I’m left feeling uninspired.

‘I also feel diversity just doesn’t exist as much as it should and I am facing so many road blocks that really I just need some inspiration to help me to write this book.’

So, if you didn’t write your lockdown novel or create your pandemic masterpiece, you’re not alone.

In fact, it’s perfectly normal to be feeling uninspired following a pretty monotonous and emotionally-draining year.

As the world opens back up, we’ll have to wait and see if our creative inspiration starts flooding back in.

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