Managing Uncertainty as a Creative Soul

March 20, 2020  •  1 Comment

Managing Uncertainty as a Creative Soul by Tim LaytonManaging Uncertainty as a Creative Soul by Tim Layton Our current times are unlike anything most of the world has ever experienced before, so I wanted to share some inspirational and hopefully helpful information with you in this article today. 

Creative people like photographers, painters, musicians, actors, and many others are special people that think and feel deeply.  I believe many of us create as a way to express ourselves in a way that we simply can't do with words.  Because many of us feel so deeply, I think we can be sensitive to uncertainty.  

I have found it very difficult over the last two weeks to be creative during these stressful times and I suspect many of you may feel the same way.  I will share my general approach with you in hopes that it may help you as well.  


Tim LaytonTim Layton First, I am making sure that I get plenty of exercise every day.  I hike every morning and typically in the late afternoons/early evenings as well.  This is a time for me to just relax, connect with nature, and some of my best ideas occur during these hikes.  I find hiking to be a major stress reliever and maybe you was well. 

Second, I limit my updates on the pandemic to just once a day to the CDC and WHO websites. Everything that I need to know is published on these two resources and I appreciate they are not influenced by the media. 

I also set time aside to work uninterrupted on my current Wild Horses of Missouri Project. I have a million things I am working on in order to get ready for exhibits next year.  I am working through the process of making the platinum and platinum/palladium prints right now.  I am currently working on a few different methods to hand tear the paper for my finished prints and I am also exploring hand making some paper for some select pieces of artwork too.  I turn off all my technology during this focused work sessions and deeply immerse myself.  

I check in on my family and closest friends just about every day to make sure they are doing well, even when I am remote in the mountains.  I have a satellite device that allows me to communicate when there is no mobile signal.  I keep the communications brief because it is expensive. I also Facetime using my iPhone with friends and family when I have a mobile signal to keep that human connection going.  This is especially important if you are self-isolating. 

It is also important for me to continue to help people.  Beyond my personal life with my family and friends, I deeply enjoy helping fellow photographers of all levels take their photography in new directors or to a new level.  This is why I actively share the full array of details of my photography projects in addition to sharing my video workshops and guidebooks. 

I would love to hear from you about some of the things that you are doing to help manage the uncertainty during these difficult times.  Please share your comment at the bottom of this article.


Tim Layton at Continental DivideTim Layton at Continental Divide Not many people could have ever imagined a global pandemic involving the Coronavirus before just a couple of months ago.  I personally believe we are in the early stages of a much larger and more complicated chapter that will likely change us forever. 

While I am not personally concerned about my health as it relates to the virus, many people are, and probably should be, based on what has already happened so far.  There are certain segments of the population, like the elderly that are at much higher risk.  

Even if you take the health issues off the table, the global impact on the economy is unlike anything we have ever seen before in history and I think it is just the tip of the iceberg.  I think there is a good chance if this continues on the current trajectory, a global recession is probably going to happen before the end of this year.  I am not an economist or even claim to understand all the complex details of the global economy, but I do have common sense and a unique ability to sense when things are concerning.  

Forest Sunrise by Tim LaytonForest Sunrise by Tim Layton What do we do with all of these concerns?  How do we manage and cope with such uncertainty?  I honestly don't claim to have the answers to these very difficult questions, but I think there are some fundamentals that we can do to help reduce the stress and anxiety. 

As a creative person, what motivates you to create?  Is your "why" changing in these unprecedented times of uncertainty? 

I encourage you to reflect about these matters and consider them in context of the current conditions.  You may discover a new opportunity to create new artwork that otherwise would have never happened.    

Self-isolating in nature is one of the current recommendations related to the pandemic that I think may be more helpful than just isolating you from other people that may have the Coronavirus.

I wrote an article in 2016, "Why Nature Matters" that may resonate with some people based on our current conditions. 

I believe that most people are wired to desire nature (e.g., sunshine, fresh air, scenic vistas, mountains).  I personally believe nature is a healing and restorative opportunity that might be exactly what many of us to pursue.  Whether that means taking a walk on your local park or hiking in the mountains like I am right now, just get outside, unplug from all the electronics in your life and allow yourself to connect with nature in a deep and meaningful way.  Even if nature isn't your preference, consider giving it a try and see if you feel a little less stressed about the current circumstances.  

McBaine Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) tree Sunset by Tim LaytonMcBaine Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) tree Sunset by Tim Layton No one can avoid the unexpected. But the simple steps listed below can help you better face life’s uncertainties. 

The APA (American Psychological Association) published some tips for how you can cope with uncertainties in general and I think several of these suggestions are applicable to the global pandemic that we are experiencing right now.  Review these tips and hopefully a few of them will resonate with you and be helpful. 

Be kind to yourself. Some people are better at dealing with uncertainties than others, so don’t beat yourself up if your tolerance for unpredictability is lower than a friend’s. Remind yourself that it might take time for the stressful situation to resolve, and be patient with yourself in the meantime.

Reflect on past successes. Chances are you’ve overcome stressful events in the past – and you survived! Give yourself credit. Reflect on what you did during that event that was helpful, and what you might like to do differently this time.

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Develop new skills
. When life is relatively calm, make a point to try things outside your comfort zone. From standing up to a difficult boss to trying a new sport, taking risks helps you develop confidence and skills that come in handy when life veers off course.

Limit exposure to news. When we’re stressed about something, it can be hard to look away. But compulsively checking the news only keeps you wound up. Try to limit your check-ins and avoid the news during vulnerable times of day, such as right before bedtime.

Avoid dwelling on things you can’t control. When uncertainty strikes, many people immediately imagine worst-case scenarios. Get out of the habit of ruminating on negative events.

Take your own advice. Ask yourself: If a friend came to me with this worry, what would I tell her? Imagining your situation from the outside can often provide perspective and fresh ideas.

Crested Butte - Rocky MountainsCrested Butte - Rocky Mountains Engage in self-care. Don’t let stress derail your healthy routines. Make efforts to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. Many people find stress release in practices such as yoga and meditation.

Seek support from those you trust. Many people isolate themselves when they’re stressed or worried. But social support is important, so reach out to family and friends.

Control what you can. Focus on the things that are within your control, even if it’s as simple as weekly meal planning or laying out your clothes the night before a stressful day. Establish routines to give your days and weeks some comforting structure.

Ask for help. If you’re having trouble managing stress and coping with uncertainty on your own, ask for help. Psychologists are experts in helping people develop healthy ways to cope with stress.

I hope that you found at least one thing in this article today that was helpful for you.  Share your comments and suggestions below.  

-Tim Layton

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Tim Schroll(non-registered)
Thank you for your message, so many truths contained and great advice during these times. Your ability to inspire is a gift as great as your art.

Now to the darkroom to develop film from yesterday....our last day before told to "shelter in place" here in Illinois.

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