Quarantine + Creativity

Category : blog
Do something that makes you happy, like hang a little crooked birdhouse.

A couple of weeks ago I took the time to write out a whole post about quarantine life. Then my site had a meltdown, we had to restore it to a previous backup, and POOF! The post was not included in that backup.

I get it. I’m having my own little meltdown about once a week over here. It’s the juggling that gets to me: work, distance learning, parenting, and creating. Just know that it was well thought out and included puzzles, trying to maintain our sanity, and absolutely no early bedtimes. We’re on full-on summer schedule right now. It’s a little harsh at times, but I’m definitely enjoying the slower pace of life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity during this quarantine. During the first week or so, I felt a heaviness in my body and soul. I was exhausted for no reason. Some days I was so unfocused at work (in my day job I manage online content for a nonprofit), I just had to sign off early and spend the rest of the day on the couch, zoned out on my phone.

I learned that what I was feeling was grief. And I wasn’t alone.

Remaining creative is hard when we are emotionally depleted, which naturally happens from time to time, as the news cycles in and out of crazy. Now that the grief has waned and we’ve settled into our new normal, I’ve been able to make art of some sort every day. Here are a few things I’m doing to stay creative.

Show up when you can.

If you are emotionally exhausted from homeschooling your children, being on Zoom meetings all day, or mentally preparing to start wiping with scraps of fabric thanks to toilet paper hoarders, give yourself some grace. If you’re not feeling it, don’t force it. (Side note: what we’re doing is not homeschooling – it’s crisis schooling.)

But if you ARE feeling like getting off your phone and doing something with your hands, grab onto that feeling and run with it. Do something that makes you happy.

Try new things.

This is the perfect time to try something new. I started #the100DayProject on April 7, with a focus on figure drawing. I chose it because I knew it wouldn’t be overwhelming to sit and knock out a simple pencil drawing each day, but I also have given myself the space and permission to expand into other media and drawing styles. Figure drawing workshops on Zoom hosted by The Art Local have been really fun.

Do routine things.

Alternately, don’t pressure yourself into doing something new and overwhelming. It’s okay to do something well in your comfort zone for now. That’s why I CHOSE figure drawing for my project. But I’m betting that will naturally expand into new things. I loved this short piece of inspiration from Austin Kleon: Do What You Know How to Do.

Journal.

I’ve been a proponent of Morning Pages for over a year now. My family ribs me about it frequently (“Mom’s writing in her diary!”), but I don’t care. I know the value is there, even if you can’t see it directly in the writing. It helps me process the day before (and has inadvertently turned into kind of a sleep diary for my insomnia, which is a whole other story) and sort out what I want to do today and my thoughts about my current projects.

Stay away from the internet. -Ish.

When quarantine started, I was reading Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism. I’m not ready to totally delete everything from my phone. But I’ve been developing a hatred of Facebook for a while now, and while I love Twitter, I hop off when everyone in my feed is raging about some recent piece of news. Instagram is great as long as coveting (or being envious of) other people’s work doesn’t get in the way of creating my own.

What are you doing to stay creative during quarantine?

Comment (1)

I’m still struggling with my 100-day project – the internal critic is beating down and I’m struggling with inspiration. I made myself pick up a sketchbook I found (still empty) last night & tried just to sketch from photos. I also dug out all my art stuff last night and I’m going to move them up to my daughter’s art desk (now abandoned) in the family room – anything to get me to a different part of the house.

Maybe I need to try the live drawing session – I need to loosen up and not overthink. I’m struggling to do quick sketches sitting inside my house lol!

Maybe I’ll take an afternoon and take pictures and share on IG, maybe not. I’m

6 months ago

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