Creativity During the Cruelest Month, April by Catharine Bramkamp

Creativity During the Cruelest Month, April by Catharine BramkampLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us “Creativity During the Cruelest Month, April .” Enjoy!


Remember the dreaded essay assignment, what I did over my summer vacation?  

The question, what did I do during shelter in place, has much the same ring.  

You know the aspirational answer: Wrote and sold your novel.

But April Was The Cruelest Month

You also know the painful reality: re-watched every episode of Game of Thrones and took a tequila shot for every anomaly or plot miss. And that only consumed five days.

It’s one thing to have unexpected time to create, it’s quite another to be told you must spend indefinite time out of touch coupled with income anxiety and freaking out every time you visit the grocery store (should I submerge the apples in bleach? No, never.}  Will that affect the nutrition? {Poisonous} Do I care about either anymore? Why am I eating apples when there is gelato?

April indeed was the cruelest month. But there were also opportunities to breed lilacs out of the cold, dead earth, opportunities and projects that might not have produced immediate income but could set you up for future success. And you can employ these ideas anytime you are offered or discovered or forced into unexpected time off from your real life.

During my own month-plus off, the first project I took on was to honor National Poetry Month (April) by creating short videos of my poetry and posting them on YouTube. Since video selfies are not my natural way of organizing my world, this was a real effort.

Why it worked.

Zero expectations. 

Did anyone look at the videos? Nope. (check out what no one is viewing or this one), but popularity wasn’t the point of the exercise.

In fact, starting out a project with the goal of being popular will kill the creativity as well as the benefits of the effort. (Become too distracted by the outcome and responses and suddenly you’re completely paralyzed.)  

The video goal was just to create. 

The possible final outcome is to have an example of work that can be used for the next big thing or effort. It is all about the future rather than collecting  immediate likes.

The April project was based on something I already loved to do.

I love writing poems. Enough poems are published so I know the effort is not all fantasy and self regard. Choose to do a create project with some gravitas and some tiny hope of future success so you feel you are adding to your creative oeuvre not just wasting your time.   

The April project is based on a new medium

I chose to video poems because I hate video. Talk about cruel. All of life  switched to the unforgiving glare of the camera just when I hit a big birthday. Did I have a choice? I did not. So I learned.

Learn new things.  

I pulled out iMovie and watched a few YouTube tutorials and started to create the films.  

I figured out how to manage the process and the system and built the project from there. I learned how to overcome glitches in YouTube uploads.  I learned to post on my website. I learned I needed to upgrade both the website and my Zoom account. I learned there are no beauty filters on Zoom but instead of a live video you can opt to post a ten year old photo and that takes care of many problems. 

What project or passion can you re-discover that is unrelated to work or money, but will engender additional exploration and creativity? 

A big and reasonably elaborate project can inspire you to get out of bed in the morning. A deadline can give your day structure and when met, satisfaction. 

Your deadline can be two weeks, five days, seventy-two hours, whatever time frame helps you focus and produce.

My goal was to be able to look at the April calendar and see that I indeed was involved with projects, met deadlines, and produced a body of work by the end of the month. And I did.  

What do you want to tackle? 

What do you want to tackle? By the time you read this, you may be out and about, able to leave your home and run through the forest mask-free. 

The take away from our life inside is that we can begin something new and interesting at any time. When you must, you can stay creative through your own personal cruel month.

Visit the Videos:

Start your project with free help, video and PDFs at



Catharine BramkampCatharine Bramkamp is the co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast that focuses on newer writers and their concerns. She is a successful writing coach, Chief Storytelling Officer, and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, and The Future Girls series. She holds two degrees in English and is an adjunct university professor. After fracturing her wrist, she has figured out there is very little she is able to do with one hand tied behind her back.

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