With concerts and other mass gatherings largely on hold due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Carly Pearce has found herself with far more downtime than she's used to.

"As an artist you kind of go into autopilot a little bit; you're kind of a robot," Pearce told The Boot and other media members during a recent virtual roundtable. "When this happened ... I was pulled off the road very fast, and in an instant, I watched my band walk away in the airport, and it was like, 'Oh, wow, okay, this thing that I talk about as such a hectic [lifestyle] ... was taken away in just two seconds. And then, our whole world is struggling in so many ways."

The singer is grateful for the free time, though: It's given her "the space and the time and just, like, the silence," she says, to re-center herself and focus on where she wants to go from here.

"It's heavy out there right now. Everybody feels a heaviness," Pearce reflects, "and I think just making sure that I take this opportunity to really get in touch with my feelings, get in touch with what I've learned through this time, which is a lot, and very unexpected, and try to find the silver linings."

With chances to perform taken away, save for an occasional, from-home television appearance or livestream, Pearce has found herself "unexpectedly" inspired to write new music.

"I just put out an album in February, so I was like, 'Wait a minute, I still have all this music that I need to go out there and do and perform and live,' and I oddly found myself extremely creative during this time," the singer shares. "I've been lucky to feel like I found what is meant to be my next step through this, and I feel confident in that."

Thanks to that creative jolt, Pearce says her next single will be something completely new. She doesn't know exactly what it will be just yet, but says she "[has] so much peace and excitement" about it.

"It's the only creative outlet that I feel like we really have at this moment, you know?" Pearce says of songwriting. "I oddly just started to feel a rush of emotions of things I felt like I wanted to say, and just going through a lot of personal growth during this time ... and I just all of a sudden felt so creative and so much at peace and felt like I had a lot to say that I didn't know was in me ...

"I've just had time for the first time since I got a record deal to just write," she adds.

Pearce recently notched a new No. 1 song, "I Hope You're Happy Now," a duet with Lee Brice, the first single from her self-titled February release. Around the same time, however, she filed for divorce from her husband of eight months, fellow country artist Michael Ray. Having a career success to celebrate amid both personal and global struggles, she says, is "such a silver lining."

"This has been a hard time for everybody ... It's been an intense time for me in a lot of ways," Pearce says, "and I think that this little reminder of just so much love and so much truth as to what I'm supposed to be doing has been really nice, and just something that I've looked forward to watching.

"It's easy to kind of feel lost in 'Am I still an artist? Do I still make music? Do people still care?'" she continues, "and they do."

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