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Mai Fenton
13 May 2020
3 minute read

As more than a billion people around the world have gone into lockdown, creativity has bloomed in surprising places.

We’ve seen quarantine masterpieces like classic paintings recreated at home, commutes to work in the shower and ingenious new devices.

Creativity

It’s just what we need right now. Not only is creative play a great way to have fun, be mindful and express yourself, but it could boost both your happiness and your health.

And you don’t need to be a creative genius to give it a go.

“I got given a tablet as a Christmas present two years ago, but I never got round to playing with it” says Katja. She was working in a bookshop until recently, but when lockdown hit, she started drawing nonstop. “In the past few weeks, I’ve drawn more than in the last 20 years!”

There are so many ways to tap into your creativity, all from the comfort of your own home. Here are our nine top tips – from writers, artists and comedians – for keeping your creative spirit alive.

Pay close attention

“Learning to pay attention” says writer Anne Lamott, is “what being an artist is all about.” Try a short meditation or a mindful walk outside, attending to the details of what’s around you.

Try naming five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Originally designed as a technique to combat anxiety, it helps you to see the world around you with fresh eyes.

Switch it up

“I definitely hit a creative slump when lockdown started” says Artist Henry J Garrett. “But I've always found pivoting to be useful when in a creative slump. If you take up a whole new art form, it feels more like a fun silly game than work. And that takes a lot of the pressure off.

“This time I pivoted from drawing cartoons to writing a screenplay for a comedy Christmas movie. I read some books on the craft and just jumped in. It's got the creative juices flowing again and I'm not as self-critical because it's not something I'm supposed to be good at.”

If taking on a big task like a screenplay feels scary, just start small. Try a haiku, or a three-line story.

Connect with nature

Research suggests that connecting with nature boosts creativity. You can’t head off to a national park, but you can look for nature in the streets, canals and even car parks near you.

Download one of these nature-watching apps to count bees, watch birds or identify trees. And if you can’t go outside, you can still watch wildlife from your window.

Challenge yourself

Time-bound challenges can be seriously motivating. Get inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, in November) or NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month, in April).

Why not set your own challenge with friends or family? Check out the #AtlanticPoetryChallenge or scroll back through the Poetry Society’s daily poetry prompts for inspiration.

Take yourself on an artist date

Creativity guru Julia Cameron recommends taking yourself on an ‘artist date’. That’s a “once-weekly, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.”

They may be closed, but you can still virtually visit an aquarium, a zoo or some of the world’s greatest museums.

Let it go

We all know that feeling: you’re trying to make art and a voice pipes up saying that it’s not good enough. Your ‘inner critic’ can really kill the vibe. To keep censorship at bay, set a timer for 15 minutes and flow out with some free writing, spontaneous movement or musical improv.

Learn from the experts

Seek out podcasts or TV shows that stimulate your creativity, like Grayson Perry's art club. "It got me drawing more than I have in ages" says designer Lior Smith.

Try new things

Just as athletes cross-train to improve their performance, why not train your creativity with something different? Dance, cooking and yoga could all boost your creativity. Check out Yoga With Adriene’s ‘Create’ playlist for a festival of mind-boosting movement.

Cut yourself some slack

“These aren't the healthiest conditions for creativity and productivity to blossom, so I don't think anyone should be beating themselves up about ‘not doing enough’” says comedian Ahir Shah.

“Given the scale of the challenges everyone is facing at the moment, energy expended on contemplating how this crisis is causing one’s artistic output to suffer may be better spent learning how to play a very small violin.”

That said, “a surprising amount of television can be made remotely, and the excuses not to finish bits of writing have dried up, so lockdown has in some senses made creativity more possible.”

Find what’s possible for you, whether that’s a virtual co-working session with writers, stand-up comedy on Zoom or a lockdown choir.

You may not write the next King Lear in quarantine, but you might just surprise yourself.

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