It’s no secret that the era of COVID-19 has been rough on content creators. Gigs are way down. Patrons and clients are tightening their belts, making it hard to find work. Plus, the mental and emotional impact of social isolation in the midst of a devastating pandemic is enough to weigh down even the most prolific of artists, designers and musicians. Nonetheless, this is an opportunity to progress creatively and sharpen your skills, so when things return to normal, you can come out swinging. Here are a few tips I have picked up in the past year that have helped me to keep a creative edge even in isolation.
‘Zen’ Your Space
I find that I make my greatest creative and artistic strides when I am at my most relaxed, in an almost meditative state. This clarity of mind allows ideas to present themselves. One of the best ways to achieve this clarity is to engineer the space around you to minimize distractions and stressors. This may mean rearranging the furniture in your studio and getting rid of clutter, or it may mean creating a ritual around setting up and breaking down your creative space before and after your work session.
However you choose to do it, the important thing is making the realization that your surroundings affect your mindset, and your mindset affects your product. With this in mind, you can take physical steps to set yourself up for the best outcome before you even sit down to create.
Don’t Go Hungry
Inspiration may be for amateurs, but as creators, we need to understand that creativity doesn’t come from nowhere. As much as we like to romanticize the idea of the siloed artist toiling away in a lonely studio for months on end, producing masterpiece after masterpiece, the truth is that we cannot create if do not consume. A huge amount of creative “input” is lost in the stay-at-home world, in the absence of regular social interaction.
One way to replace some of that “input” is to immerse yourself in the creations of others. Crack open a good book. Spin some new records. Dig into that TV series. Try that new takeout joint. Remember what moves you. Remember what inspired you to create in the first place. Otherwise, you risk losing touch with what allows you to move others. Plus, this will give you a chance to support other artists when they need it most.
Hit the Woodshed
Sometimes, the cure for writer’s block is hidden in what we musicians call “the woodshed”, or the practice room. When the ideas just aren’t flowing, my best bet is to take a step back from the creative and focus on the technical. Learning a new sub-skill or getting back to fundamentals will make you a more well-rounded artist and increase your fluency, which will put more tools in your toolbelt and ideas to come more naturally.
Also, having a consistent practice routine makes it easier to sit down and spend time with your craft without the mental burden of having to create your next masterpiece. For me, it’s easier to wrap my head around the idea of practicing scales and arpeggios than working on my next composition, but once I buckle down and start the work, I can more easily get into the right state of mind for ideation.
Quarantine may have taken some of your gigs away, but don’t pass up the opportunity to continue honing the skills that got you those gigs in the first place.