Creativity in the Time of COVID: Why You Should Keep Making Art in Uncertain Times

I first wrote this post in April and published it on Medium. While where I am currently living isn’t in a strict quarantine, there are still a lot of restrictions on socializing (Whether people actually follow that is another thing, but that’s a post for a different day). And now many places in the world are entering a second lockdown phase. So I know that there are still a lot of people who are finding themselves with a more-than-average amount of alone time. I’m resharing this post here in hopes that it will help those of you who are currently in lockdown, are living in isolation, or otherwise unable to live as you normally would (So…most of us). I hope it inspires you to keep up with your creative projects, even during this stressful time. 

There seems to be two camps that everyone on social media are falling into when it comes to what to do while we’re all in quarantine: Either you’re focusing on self-improvement, using your time to “level up” in some way, create art, live your best indoor life, etc., or you’ve hunkered down, become intimate with the darkest recesses of Netflix, and haven’t showered in longer than you can remember.

I don’t think there is any “right” way to get through this pandemic. I think we are all just doing the best we can to get through this with as much of our sanity intact as possible.

For some, all of this extra at-home time has led to an increase in creative output. And if that’s you, congratulations! I am genuinely glad that you have gotten something positive out of this dark timeline that we find ourselves in. But I suspect, for many of you reading this, the opposite is true.

As for myself? I’ve been feeling dry. Tapped out. Empty. Creative juices? Inspiration? Sorry, haven’t heard of them.

At least, that was the case up until recently, when I finally started to feel like maybe I could create something again. Like maybe I needed to create something again. And if you are a creative person in your “normal” life, I think that focusing on your creativity during this time can be a helpful coping mechanism that benefits you as well as others.

But even though I’ve been making lists of post ideas and journaling and daydreaming about future creative endeavors, as soon as I opened up my Google docs to write this post, I started to feel that emptiness and self-doubt again.

Who really wants to hear anything you have to say right now, hmm? There’s so much noise already, do you really think you need to add to it?

You need your creativity

If you also find yourself struggling to create right now, know that you are not alone. Honestly, I struggle to turn my creative ideas into reality during the best of times, and these are certainly not that.

But I also think that we need our creativity the most when times are tough. Maybe you think the world doesn’t need to hear what you have to say or see what you have to make. But you do. If you are a creative person at heart, that doesn’t just go away because the world feels like it’s ending. Even as I write this, I feel calmer than I did when I started. Being creative soothes me, and if creativity is part of your life then it probably does the same for you.

You don’t have to make your best art ever while you’re in quarantine. You don’t have to share it with the world. It can just be something you keep to yourself, something you do to pass the days and calm your mind during this scary time.

Your creativity benefits others too

If you DO decide to share your creations with the world, that can be powerful as well. People need art and escapism now more than ever. If you put your art out into the world, don’t see it as just more noise in a crowded room. You never know who needs to hear your particular voice.

You don’t need to put out your best art ever for it to be impactful. In fact, some of the content I like most on the internet these days is imperfect and messy. Give me your conversational vlogs and confessional Instagram posts! Remind me that I, a fellow flawed human, am not alone in the world.

Baby steps are the key

If you are really feeling like it is absolutely impossible to create right now, don’t worry. I’m not suggesting you have to write a novel or paint the equivalent of the Sistine Chapel. Can you journal one sentence? Take a single photograph? Draw one small doodle on the back of a junk mail envelope? Congratulations! You’re creating.

When you are someone who enjoys being creative, finding that that creativity has been sucked out of you because of being in isolation can be disheartening. But it is possible to take small steps back toward being your creative self again. I’m not saying you have to give up Netflix and start on a strict self-improvement regime (I’m certainly not going to). I’m just saying that maintaining your creativity during this time is important and will help you get through it.

If we’re all going to get through this, we’ll need our creativity now more than ever.

Have you been able to be creative during quarantine? What has helped you keep going?

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  1. Philemon Pie says:

    I think I’ve fallen into both the level up and vegging stream at different times. Your reminder that creativity is simple is great. Its not about performing but rather focusing on creating

  2. I second everything you said. As an artist, I also draw a lot of illustrations during lockdown. Plus, I also start writing my novel last March. Thank you for sharing this good post with me.

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