While the world is battling a viral pandemic, many of us are fighting our own battles in lockdown. With so much time spent at home, there's a lot of talk about using isolation to better yourself, whether it's via an online course, getting into shape or starting/completing a creative project.
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When it comes to the latter, creativity can be a fickle beast to wrangle at the best of times, let alone in a state of lockdown. A combination of external pressures and more free time (or the illusion of it, in some cases) can make it incredibly hard to be creative, even if it's something you do for a living.
If you're finding it hard to create in lockdown, here are five tips that might help kick things into gear.
1. Set aside the time
In lockdown, days and weeks can really melt into each other if you let them. Like other aspects of life, try to add some structure to creativity.
Set aside some time to be creative every week or even every day and avoid getting bogged down by work or chores in this time. In fact, treat it with the same importance as work and give it your undivided attention.
2. Don't force it, harness it
For many people, creativity simply can't be forced, and that's fine. Think of creativity and inspiration a bit like energy, in that it can't be created or destroyed, only transferred or converted. Instead of trying to create something out of nothing, transfer inspiration into creative energy and harness that instead.
For example, if you're a musician, think about an album you've really enjoyed lately and how you would make it better. Even if it's a completely different genre to what you're trying to create, drawing from the strongest inspiration you feel in that moment is a great way to get started and could even spark some ideas you never would have thought of otherwise.
3. Feed your mind
To continue with the analogy of creative energy, we know that it can't be created out of thin air, and the same goes for inspiration. Like feeding your body with food for energy, you have to feed your mind with inspiration to draw from.
Read a new book, watch documentaries, listen to and explore music in genres outside of your norm, connect with nature, try a new hobby, speak to other creatives. Stimulate your mind in ways you're familiar with and some you're not. Even if you use the creative time set aside, it certainly won't go to waste.
You'll be amazed at where your brain can pull creative ideas from, so be sure to feed it with a wide array of inspiration.
4. Channel different creative mediums
When your main creative outlet isn't quite working for you, try channelling something else. Sometimes all it can take to get the creativity flowing again is a quick hit from somewhere else.
If you're a painter, try writing a short poem. If you're a musician, give drawing a go. Think of it a bit like a creative warmup that'll help kick your mind into gear. It could even spark some fresh and exciting ideas for your main project.
If the thought of trying something new isn't appealing, go with a creative outlet at almost anyone's fingertips: photography. Pretty much any smartphone from the past two or even five years will have a camera capable of some decent shots, particularly newer iPhone or Samsung models.
Try getting outdoors (keeping social distancing in mind, of course) and take some nature shots. Get a few cool closeup pictures or just anything you find interesting to look at. Nature can be a profound source of inspiration if you allow it.
Sometimes you'll doubt the ideas you have, which is a normal part of the creative process. Share your thoughts with someone you trust for feedback or even for collaboration.
Working with another person can bring out the best in your ideas and theirs, which is a great way to get that song/screenplay/painting you've been stuck on through to the finish line, or at least back on track.
Most importantly, realise that creativity is different for everyone, and finding what works for you can take some time along with a little trial and error. Learn how to harness your creative flow and your process will form from there.