Creativity During Quarantine
Today is day who knows of the quarantine. Who knows what day of the week it is even. If you’re a creative person, there’s a good chance you’ve been struggling with actually creating. Maybe you decided quarantine seemed like the perfect time to get more done. Could be you thought this would be your opportunity to finally finish that special project. And perhaps you just wanted to at least keep up what you were doing before lockdown started. But...you’re lucky if you can feed yourself.
If you are having a tough time getting any creative work (or any kind of work) done, it might help to know that, under current circumstances, it’s normal. I mean, if Robert Patinson (see the latest issue of GQ) is struggling, you can too, right? It’s just human nature. Our brains are not designed to be effective in artistic mode if they are in hyper-drive survival mode. Anxiety, depression, fear, uncertainty - not traditional underpinnings of productivity or creativity. And some of us may not be stuck at home with no one else to take care of (like parents who homeschool) and nothing to do (like anyone who is having to work from home).
So, let me repeat, time to let yourself off the hook for not producing your best work or any work right now. Start by taking care of yourself. Make sure you tend to your basic needs - adequate sleep, hydration, exercise. Maybe even take a stab at meditating if you don’t already have a practice. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help, please go to the Disaster Distress Helpline website or call 800-985-5990 and ask for help.
Now, everyone deals with stress differently. Maybe creativity works as a coping mechanism for you. Great! Again, go easy on yourself. Set your standards low. Cut that to-do list in half. At least. And focus on what feels good, what’s fun. When we create from a place of joy, that feeling usually will result in our audience experiencing the same. And if you’re more like me, having a tough time getting anything done, action is the best solution. Do something, anything! This is the key to breaking the worry loop our brain can get stuck in that makes it so hard to think straight.
So, however you're feeling creatively and otherwise, here are some ideas for how to best use this time:
Enjoy - Cultivate Your Creative Spirit:
I haven’t had much free time between trying to get work done and trying to oversee distance learning for my kids, but I hear some people are watching a lot of TV and movies these days. If you can, this could be your chance to focus your watching. Or, you could turn off the TV and tend to your artistic garden by taking advantage of online portals to art and literature.
Kanopy - you may have free access to this incredible site for free - through your library
Criterion - could be a good time to spring for the Netflix for film lovers
Use a movie list like Wes Anderson’s
Ideas for TV to watch during quarantine
It can be tough to get books now, what with libraries closed. The NY Times has helpful suggestions
If you want to focus on books for filmmakers, here’s a good list from The New York Film Academy
Browse the collections of art museums around the world with this list of free virtual tours
Educate - Hone Your Creative Craft:
I like to learn, so this one is easy for me. But this could be a great way to jumpstart doing. More and more opportunities to learn online are popping up, and right now tons of folks are offering programs for discounts or even free.
Young Screenwriters offers this free short film course, taught by a professor from NYU Tisch.
Sundance - right now the film festival is offering their master classes and webinars. For free. Sign up here https://collab.sundance.org/learn
Master Class - finally spring for it?
Execute - Write, Shoot, Produce - (or just play):
You still might not be ready to dive into your own art. Start with another form of creativity.
Here’s a list of suggestions from The Atlantic - you can even start easy with something like 3 sentence novels!
Or you could be like David Lynch who is filming from home - filming himself doing weather reports.
If you’re stuck home with kids like me, here’s a list of children’s authors who are offering all sorts of fun things for you and your kids
This incredible video from Film Riot has all kinds of suggestions of things filmmakers could be doing now and includes an awesome list of resources as well
Constraints (like being stuck at home alone) and boredom can actually foster innovation. I hope that is true for you. We are creative people, and we can contribute during this challenging time by sharing our art.
And one more thing - humans are social animals, so this time when we have to socially distance can be especially hard. We can still be looking for ways to connect with each other, especially within the filmmaking community. Under normal circumstances, I’m not really a social media guy, but if you are, reach out and say hi: