6 Quarantine Friendly Ways to Get Inspired
Nearly two months into COVID-related lockdowns, life as we once knew it has changed drastically. And yet, in the midst of everyone wondering when and if things will ever be "normal" again, the world keeps spinning. Humanity pushes on the best that we can, in the only ways we know how. This is especially true for individuals working in creative fields before and/or during shutdowns. Whether you're an artist running your business online, a photographer continuing to document the world around us, or a producer bending over backwards to get films made in isolation, chances are that to some degree, you're struggling to channel that creative energy.
Generating ideas is no easy feat when you're looking at the same walls all day, everyday, indefinitely. But this doesn't change the fact that we're in the midst of something which the modern world has never before seen. Public safety must be the priority (if not for the government, then for us as individuals). So without further ado, I present my list of six *quarantine friendly* ways to get yourself inspired:
1. Walk Around the Block
For me this is the quickest, cheapest way to kick a creative slump. Obviously a stroll through the neighborhood isn't as simple as it was just a few months ago, so please wear a mask and maintain six feet of distance from those you pass along the way. One thing this virus hasn't changed is that surge of creative energy which time outside can bring. In my experience, the key to maximizing that energy is freeing yourself from distractions during your walk. A bit of music can definitely help, but otherwise I encourage you to simply focus on observing whatever's around you. Anything from people watching to a low-flying bird to the flowers poking out from the sidewalk can do wonders to revitalize your creativity. And of course, a bit of sunshine definitely won't hurt.
2. Play Some Tunes
It's no secret that music can have a significant impact on your mind. Music is generally associated with emotion and is believed to stimulate the "right brain," which is in charge of creativity and expression. I've learned firsthand that listening to a favorite album or playlist can turn around even the worst writer's block. Whenever I'm struggling with a script, I've found it especially helpful to make a custom playlist for the story I'm working on. Not only is this a great little distraction, but it subconsciously gets me thinking about character and tone, which can go a long way once it's back to writing. The same can be applied to just about any art form; regardless of medium, the right music can set the tone for whatever project you're working on. So the next time you're struggling creatively, play it now and play it loud.
3. Get the "Bad" Ideas Out First
This is one of the best approaches I've found for myself and my work style. If you're feeling stuck, start by just letting out whatever is in your head (good, bad, ugly). Trust me when I say that you're not doing yourself any favors by staring at the blank page (or canvas, or screen). Sometimes when you've hit a wall, the best thing to do is go around it. But when you're a creative, the better option tends to be picking up a battering ram and plowing right through it. The key here is not judging yourself for whatever comes out. Judgement is much more conducive to destruction than creation, and isn't going to do you any favors. While this step might be better suited to certain mediums (such as writing), some variation of it can be applied to just about anything. It's a gross metaphor, but think of a blocked shower drain; what way is there to clear it besides getting in there and fishing out all the gunk?
4. Learn From the Pros
Whether it's listening to a podcast, watching an interview, or taking in a great piece of art, seeing the pros in action can elevate creativity on even your worst days. Understanding how your favorite artists approach their craft can help bring a fresh perspective and a better sense of where to start. After all, even the greatest creative minds had to navigate learning curves of their own. Using these experiences as a guide can significantly cut down on the time you'll spend struggling or beating yourself up. Of course, creativity is not meant to be a race or a competition- but that's doesn't mean you shouldn't take advantage of the resources available to you. There's a reason the greats are considered great. And if you follow their lead, there's no reason you can't become one yourself.
5. Browse an Art Museum (Virtually)
Again, it stands to reason that taking in others people's work can be a huge source of inspiration for your own. Considering the obvious hit museums have taken during this time, Google Arts & Culture has paired with some of the best to offer online tours and exhibitions. You can now view countless masterpieces all from the comfort of your couch. A couple of my favorite exhibitions include the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. For me, the platforms used to view these collections are almost as inspiring as the art itself. There's something to be said for the sense of connection and evolution which allows us to do typically public things in the privacy of our homes.
6. Clear Your Mind to Fill Your Mind
We've all heard that phrase,"a watched pot never boils." A similar idea can be applied to the creative process in that sometimes the best thing you can do for your creativity is put it out of mind for a while. During my time at film school I was hyperaware of this notion that if you weren't killing yourself with work, you weren't doing enough. I've since come to understand that this is a toxic idea which, in my experience, tends to crush whatever creative energy you have. If the goal is to generate better ideas, the first step is accepting that breaks are important. Constantly working and putting pressure on yourself to come up with the next big thing will likely just leave you feeling even more stifled and uninspired. Stepping away from your work for a bit to meditate, stretch, or even blankly scroll through social media can be an effective way to refresh your mind and jumpstart your imagination.
Even with these tips in mind, I do want to mention that it's okay to feel uninspired right now. More than that, it's expected that you will. There's nothing wrong with being unmotivated or struggling to create when the world is effectively burning around us. If you're feeling this uncertainty and lack of drive, it just means you're human like the rest of us. I want this list to serve as a reminder that yes, it's possible to kick these bad feelings and continue making art. But also as a reminder that sometimes your best option is to acknowledge these feelings and start fresh tomorrow.
This week, I encourage everyone reading this to not let the creativity blues overwhelm you. It's important to feel these emotions when they start to creep in, but that doesn't mean you have to be a slave to them. Be kind to yourself and your art. Remember that you're the one in control of where your energy goes.