It’s been an entire year since Covid-19 first surfaced in Europe and it’s been a rollercoaster - or ‘Coronacoaster’ ride as I’ve been calling it - for everyone.
Whilst the effects of the pandemic have obviously been devastating globally from a health point of view, for many, the mental health and financial repercussions of the past year have been extremely difficult to navigate through.
For professional freelance creatives, it’s been an especially testing time. Many, like myself, as a freelance Magician, Dancer and Actor, rely financially on large public events, which have disappeared in a puff of smoke. But unlike all of the best magic tricks- we have no real idea of when they might magically reappear. And there’s not even a cute bunny or glamorous assistant to distract from the reality of what’s happening.
This uncertainty and the stop-start of lockdowns can be extremely difficult for freelancers and doesn’t exactly inspire the motivation for the flow of those elusive creative juices, not to mention cash flow!
Here are my Dos and Don’ts of navigating the ups and downs of the Coronacoaster as a Freelance Creative.
DON’T be too hard on yourself if you aren’t constantly creating, it’s ok to have a day watching Netflix in your pyjamas with a jar of Nutella and a spoon now and again. But DO try to set yourself some tasks to complete whether it’s on a certain day, or by the end of the week.
Do stay accountable. Being your own boss will always have its challenges but DO try to keep your skills up to scratch - even if you’re not learning or making new things and you’re not quite at your ‘pre pandemic’ level, DO practice, DO read (doesn’t have to be COVID-19 news if it's overwhelming or anything ‘clever’), DO keep your finger on the pulse of your industry so that you’re ‘game ready’ when the restrictions ease and it’s safe to do your work fully again.
Do talk to others in your field but DON’T compare your current success to theirs - you were unique and different to them before the pandemic, you still are - DON’T worry if they have been super creative that week and you did one zoom quiz and the extent of your creativity was separating the socks for the dark and white wash (FYI this is important work to be continued even during a pandemic - nobody needs a rogue grey sock shocker- we’ve all been through enough!).
Equally, DO help to motivate fellow creatives and share tips if you’ve enjoyed success during this time, but DON’T boast or patronise - it’s called the Coronacoaster (I should trademark that!) for a reason - they might be having an awful time and feeling super low and guilty about lack of creativity whilst you’re riding the ‘high’ so DO ‘read the room’ and be sensitive to their situation.
DON’T be too proud to take a ‘normal’ job, it doesn’t have to be forever and you might just enjoy it. Do make sure you’re up to date on any financial help you may be entitled to and DON’T be too proud or scared to ask for help.
Do keep up with the news in your industry and DO make sure you know the current rules in your area - is it safe and legal to carry out your work? Do talk to friends in other industries too - it can be nice to hear some different perspectives.
Do try and get some fresh air and exercise (where and when safe and legal to do so!) each day- even if it’s a walk around your own garden! Do get dressed (doesn’t have to be every day – I refer back to Netflix and Nutella!), also for the avoidance of doubt definitely DO get dressed BEFORE going out for exercise....
Don’t be scared to try something new- an online class, learn a few words in a different language or a new recipe - maybe banana bread (or is that soooo lockdown 1.0?).
Don’t be afraid to ‘put yourself out there’ - can you DO what you DO online? If you’re an expert in your field, DO offer online workshops or classes. DO participate in other creatives’ online classes. Even if finances are stretched - there’s so many free resources and ‘pay what you can afford’ initiatives. Or DO skill swap with other creatives.
DON’T feel guilty - your entire industry and source of income may have stopped - you are allowed to feel sad, angry or annoyed. Do allow yourself a moment. But DO talk to friends or family or reach out for support if it gets too much.
DO find the silver linings... DO use this down time to rest, reset and re-evaluate - maybe there’s elements of the ‘lockdown life’ you prefer - DO plan how you can implement these into your working life post-pandemic.
DON’T . GIVE. UP.
Here are some relevant links: