How I'm Staying Creative in Lockdown
Words by Kara Chamberlain
Here are a few things that help re-ignite my creativity after lockdown left me feeling uninspired.
I’ll be honest with you, it has been weeks since I have felt inspired, with lockdown life leaving me out of sync with my creative practices. At the same time, my instagram and twitter feeds keep filling up with signs of other artists creating and sharing content. As much as I love the corona-content, seeing the effort and enthusiasm of other creatives left me feeling guilty for not “maximising my lockdown”.
Then I realised a deep truth: the only real success we need to achieve right now is survival, art making can wait.
So I stopped beating myself up and a huge weight lifted. I hadn’t realised how much stress I was putting on my creativity until I hit the brakes. Oddly enough, that is when I started becoming inspired again.
To help me stay motivated to create without bullying myself into it I've created some new guidelines, adjusted to get me through this lockdown. Hopefully they help to re-inspire your creativity as well.
1. Stick to technique.
As I mentioned in my article about being a resting artist, times when you don’t have a project on the go offer you a chance to revisit your technique. Just doing the bare minimum to stay performance-ready is still a creative practice. For example, I've been lacking the inspiration to learn new songs for my singing lessons. Instead, I’ve been sticking to my singing warm-ups, working on technique, and revisiting old repertoire that I know well. This has actually helped me to discover new things about my singing voice. Sometimes just getting back to basics can kick-start your art, and if it doesn’t then you’ve still done something creative. Win-win.
2. This is just for you.
Art making always comes with an audience - and who better to be your audience than you. If you are a freelancer, it has possibly been ages since you created something without thinking about the financial or career impact. Now is the time to give yourself permission to do something just for the fun of it. Letting go of thinking about whether something will bring you money will free you up to experiment. Taking the pressure of marketability off of your art and doing it 'just because' will open up so many avenues for you to explore - you may even discover some new skills!
3. Social media can wait.
I want to officially CANCEL the idea that "if you don’t share it, it didn’t happen”. Creating content to post online can be incredibly fun and rewarding, but we can easily forget that not sharing is also an option. Dancing like no one is watching doesn’t work if you are doing an instagram live video. So remember that just because everyone you follow is posting drawings or poems or songs or choreo doesn’t mean you have to share something before it’s ready. If your insta goes quiet for a week (or a month) that’s okay, what isn’t okay is if the pressure of posting something kills your creativity altogether.
4. Trust your gut.
There is a little voice inside all of us, and if you listen to it you can't go wrong. For a while my little voice has been nudging me to write a show, and I've put it off with a number of bad excuses. Lately it has been getting louder, and for a few weeks I kept telling myself that writing something now was pointless because there's no guarantee I'd be able to do anything with it. Finally I a) ran out of things to clean and b) realised I was coming from a place of resistance and fear (note: if I'd figured out all the things I wrote in the rest of this article it might not have taken me so long). I've begun to gently work on my writing, and it has brought me a lot of satisfaction and happiness. Your gut is talking to you all the time, it will help you find your way if you can tune in even a little bit.
5. Just do 2 minutes.
Possibly the best advice I ever got regarding inner resistance was "what is a bearable amount of time for you to do it?" For most tasks, even the really awful ones, we can bear to do it for a minute...maybe even two or three. If you take the pressure off and decide that you are going to tackle something for just a couple of minutes you are much more likely to start. And yes, there is the implication that after the two or three minutes have passed you will be so swept up that you'll work for another three hours, but that is NOT what we are going for here. Two minutes is genuinely enough, so if you've had enough stop. And pat yourself on the back for doing it, because starting is the hardest part.
There are still many opportunities out there to create and share artistic work, but that does not mean that you are any less of an artist for taking a break. Reconsider what sparks your inner fire, work on the things that interest you, and trust your gut. Inspiration is like the weather, you never really know what tomorrow will bring.