How to Make Art in Difficult Times

I'm not an expert, but I do have a book due in two weeks. I've been terribly upset and distracted while not having the luxury of being so. Here's what's helped.
  1. I have a book due in December, so I had a complete schedule set out to ensure that I met my deadline.
  2. The election and the news following it threw me off-track.
  3. In a million ways. (Obviously.)
  4. I knew I had to write every day but the energy and focus that required felt insurmountable.
  5. Here's how I managed:
  6. I turned off Twitter for the half hour leading up to my writing time.
  7. I plugged in my headphones, listened to music from my playlist, allowed myself to be ok trying to put myself in a safe, imaginary place for 30 minutes while I took a walk.
  8. The horrors of the world would still be there when I got back.
  9. The music helped. The fresh air helped.
  10. I'd then force myself to eke out my word count. First thing, as soon as I was back from my walk, with my head a little clearer.
  11. I did this in the morning, before the stress and news could accumulate and distract me from any sort of creative endeavor.
  12. Still, the writing was coming in fits and starts. It wasn't great work. It was words on a page but not inspired words on a page.
  13. I called my agent.
  14. I said: "I don't know how to end this book."
  15. She said: "Make it happy. People need hope right now."
  16. Hearing that, it was as if something opened up in me, something that realized people DO need art and hope and grace and inspiration right now. That's just about all I can offer them, since none of us can undo the past few weeks.
  17. So I wrote with hope. And I wrote to make people happier and to provide comfort.
  18. And knowing that I might be able to do this turned those flat words on a page into something better.
  19. I'm finishing the manuscript today, three days ahead of my schedule.
  20. It can be so difficult to find light in such a dark time.
  21. I'm not an expert at it, god knows. My twitter feed calls out at all times, and no good come from the news I read there.
  22. But if you're creative and if you're struggling, perhaps reframe your craft as a way to spread joy.
  23. We all need it right now.
  24. And I have to believe that it will help.