Some Early Thoughts on Preserving your Creativity During Self-Isolation.
Of course, it’s very early days and we’re all still figuring things out, but as a creative community, it’s important that we somehow find a way through this difficult and crazy time. With this in mind, we’ll be doing our best to offer some tips and advice on preserving your creativity during quarantine which we hope might help, however we are not mental health professionals, so for more in-depth guidance on managing your mental wellness during isolation, please see the below resources.
How can we sustain our creativity when we’re shut off from the world?
Creativity is, of course, important for artists and designers, but right now, it's also vital for many small businesses who must find innovative solutions and strategies to keep the lights on. Our society has suddenly been restructured and our economy is taking a hit, so now more than ever we must rely on our innovation - our ability to adapt to these new circumstances - so that we can reimagine our business practices and persevere through this unusual period. Whether you’re an artist, freelancer or small business owner like us, your creative muscle is likely now more valuable than ever, and should be nurtured as such.
Keep a Clear Mind
Along with physical health, we’ve found that a healthy mind is incredibly important for creativity. The uncertainty of these times inevitably influences a lot of stress and anxiety, and when you’re trapped within overly familiar surroundings, cut off from human interaction, it can be easy to spiral into an unhealthy headspace, which is an infertile space for creativity. We must, therefore, ensure our mental hygiene is tended to regularly and properly in order to cultivate a peaceful headspace, so the ideas can flow easily and plentifully.
The below practices are some we’ve found personally useful for keeping a clear mind for creativity, however, these are just things we’ve figured out along the way and we’re certainly not experts. For more professional guidance on mental health management, see the resources at the start of the post.
After starting meditation classes with our friend Conor Jack Creighton earlier this year, we can personally attest to the fact that regular meditation has a hugely positive impact on mental wellness. What’s also great is that it’s fairly painless to integrate into our daily routines and currently, Headspace & Calm are offering free guided content during the quarantine period.
Now, if your government lockdown permits, then a light jog whilst listening to a podcast or some music can do wonders for a busy or stressed mind. If your lockdown restricts this, or you’d simply prefer exercising at home, there’s a wonderful wealth of instructional content available for free on YouTube for anything from Pilates to Kickboxing to Yoga. And popular Yoga app Down Dog has also made all of its content free for a little while.
For most of us, the best we can do right now to flatten the curve is to self-isolate, so there’s no need to cause unnecessary busyness in your mind by endlessly scrolling through your plethora of news apps. After we restricted our news-checking habits to twice a day, our stress levels plummeted. Similarly, you could try to limit your social media exposure too. You can keep up to date with the news and your friends without letting it all overwhelm you and steal your focus.
New ideas can be uncovered through the flow of authentic dialogue with a contemporary. And sometimes, an outsider’s perspective is exactly what it takes to unlock the essence of an idea.
So, Skype/ZOOM/FaceTime your fellow creatives or collaborators. If you’re working on something, show them and discuss it. See if their insights can help to shape or improve it. If you’re in a bit of a rut, creatively, then talk about what they may be working on, or analyse your past work with them. Sometimes these reflections can reinvigorate the flames of old ideas or spark the first embers of new ones.
A Useful Exercise
When I’ve been struggling to manifest new ideas, I’ve found that a useful exercise to keep my creative headspace in motion is to write about work that I admire, and really explore and analyse why I think it’s so great. This has been a wildly helpful tactic to rescue me from moments of creative stagnancy.
Whether it be type design, fashion photography, creative strategy, journalistic writings, oil painting, business philosophy or floral arrangements, collect together examples of work you really connect with, set a timer for ten minutes and free-write.
It doesn’t have to be perfectly crafted sentences or grammar, just as long as you never stop writing. Why do you find it so meaningful and inspiring? Dissect it.
Much of the creative work we admire we do so because it aligns with something deep within us that we would like to create ourselves. So, by critically analysing the fabric of these works as an observer rather than a creator, we reap the benefits of a shifted perspective which can grant us with some new understanding and can inspire new creative approaches.
Start a Daily Journal
At the very least, a daily journal can strengthen our ability to articulate and express our thoughts, and at the most, it can cultivate deeply enlightening insights into our psyches. From new understandings of one’s self, fresh ideas can arise. Here’s a nice article about the overall value of daily journals.
Absorb, Absorb, Absorb
There may be an outside world of exhibitions, screenings, gigs and performances that have been put on pause for a little bit, but there’s still a universe of amazing content we can access from home to keep us inspired. We all have unread books on our shelves, podcasts we’ve been suggested and lists of films we’ve been meaning to watch. Now’s the time to burn through those lists, rediscover the classics and ask friends for recommendations. Time saved in socialising and commuting can be repurposed in broadening our cultural horizons.
Welcome the Boredom
Life before this pandemic had become a world without boredom. There was always something to watch, something to listen to, people to message. There was no time alone with our thoughts. Maybe this is the time to welcome the inner-dialogue that emerges from the void of boredom. Maybe it can bring some new ideas along with it. There’s a great bitesize episode from the TED Podcast which discusses this in a bit more depth.
The Value of Creativity Now
In these troubled times, it would be easy to imagine that the work of the creative holds less value. If we look back through history though, at societies during crises, the role of art was profoundly important. It was during the height of World War Two, for instance, that Hollywood experienced the most lucrative years in its history. People need art during times of crisis. Art and creativity inspire us to persist through uncertainty as we’re reminded of the excitement and beauty that life can bring. So don’t let it be undervalued, the ability to navigate these crises whilst uncovering joy and meaning, as not only can it bring catharsis to ourselves, but when shared with others can bring much-needed relief from a bewildering world.
We hope some of our tips and advice might have helped you in some way. Keep informed and stay safe.
The Hund Hund Team.
Words by Ewan Waddell