Saturday, April 11, 2020

What to Do When Crisis Disrupts Creativity

by Beth K. Vogt @BethVogt

Have you heard the call – the chorus of calls – to be more creative with all the free time we have, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic?

Not that I’m inclined to thank the pandemic for anything – except for the acts of kindness, both small and large, that I’ve seen performed over and over again. And the ones we don’t see. The ones done silently. Namelessly.

But still, we face the ongoing reality that jobs have ended. School has ended. For some of us, publishing contracts have ended. 

What once was normal? Ended.

And in the midst of all this ending and adjusting and going to bed and waking up wondering what does today look like and what will it demand of us, we read an article – or two or three or more – exhorting us to be creative. 

Write that story! Conquer that deadline!

Here’s another option: Don’t.

Don’t be creative. 

Don’t write that story.

Don’t conquer that deadline! (At least for today …)

Crisis does not cultivate creativity.

The coronavirus isn’t going away for a while, barring a miracle. And yes, like millions of other people, I am praying for a miracle. Sheltering in place and social distancing and being separated from family and friends and, yes, your hair stylist and your nail technician – Sorry, guys, this is a big deal for women! – are all going to continue for a while longer. No one knows for how long. Here in Colorado, officials have extended every “until this date” deadline. 
Some stressors can’t be avoided. But we can pick and choose some of the anxiety producers we add to our lives right now.

Demanding we produce the great American novel or some exemplary work of nonfiction? Optional.

Plotting out a novel or working on a fast draft? Optional.

Meeting a deadline? Not exactly optional. I get it. But maybe we can figure out how to manage it better. Write one day and take the next day off. Or write in the morning and take the afternoon off. 

Let’s give ourselves time to find our bearings in this ongoing worldwide emergency. Be gentle with ourselves … and with others. The creativity will come as we acclimate to what life demands of us now. 


Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Having authored nine contemporary romance novels and novellas, The Best We’ve Been, the final book in Beth’s Thatcher Sisters Series with Tyndale House Publishers, releasers May 2020. Other books in the women’s fiction series include Things I Never Told You, which won the 2019 AWSA Award for Contemporary Novel of the Year, and Moments We Forget. Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015RITA®finalist. An established magazine writer and former editor of the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth blogs for Learn How to Write a Novel and The Write Conversation and also enjoys speaking to writers group and mentoring other writers. Visit Beth at


  1. Beth, thanks so much for this. Crisis does not cultivate creativity.

  2. Sandy: I'm thankful if you were encouraged by this post, which was the product of me processing my own reaction to the "be creative" pressure I felt ... and pushing back a bit. We are creatives ... it's who God created us to be. But if it is difficult -- or even impossible to create right now -- let's not add guilt to all the other stressors we're dealing with.

  3. I've struggled to create also. So, I rejoice every time I complete a blog post or write a few paragraphs in a WIP 🙂

  4. Jennifer: That's a great attitude! We should celebrate any writing accomplishment -- well, any forward motion of any kind! (Clean your house? Celebrate!) And if we decide to take a break, respect that decision too. No guilt. No regrets. Believe me, writing the posts I had due this week was hard, but I did a little virtual "happy dance" each time I pushed send.

  5. Beth, your comments are so helpful. I, too, struggled for a while with guilt for not using this time to produce, produce, produce. Now I take a day at a time. Some days I write a little. Other days I can write more. It all works together.

  6. Roberta: Taking things one day at a time is so wise. I'm choosing to do that, too. And to offer grace to others and to myself. And most nights, I fall asleep listening to my favorite worship music, remembering God's mercy will be new when I wake up.

  7. Hi Beth, I've felt stuck and unmotivated during this time too. Ideas float through my head and then vanish. I just don't feel compelled to write. Thankfully, during this time, I've received edits for a couple of books of mine that will publish this year. I was grateful for something I HAD to do and couldn't put off. Even the edits were hard to attack,though. I appreciate your comments giving us freedom to step back. Guilt on top of non-productivity has been weighing me down. On the positive side, I'm learning how to enjoy just "being" instead of "doing," which is really hard for a Type A like myself.

  8. Marilyn: First, congratulations on the upcoming book releases! Yay! And yes, guilt on top of non-productivity -- so understandable right now -- weighs anyone down. I love your positivity about "being" instead of "doing."

  9. My current project (Still WIP, lol) has been ongoing for years. The amount of family crisis we've gone through in that time is incredible. Not something I realized. I was just going through it. But thinking back on it ... we've been through a lot. Creativity has been an important part of getting through it, for me. But, yes. Some days -- some months -- it just didn't happen. I had to learn to disallow guilt, and to step toward God and whatever creativity was possible when it was possible.