quarantine the American musician

Creativity In Quarantine

Scott McCormick – Ladies And Gentlemen Photo Shoot (Creativity Before The Quarantine)
photo by Merne Judson III | www.mernejudsonthethird.com

At times, I’ve felt as if I were a wild animal shackled in my studio. I pace back and forth and grunt loudly to myself. Mumbling about concepts while shaking my head muttering “no, no, no, no, not there yet.” Since hunting for a semblance of creativity in this quarantine, I think we’ve all felt the weight in the air. There’s a heaviness now that squelches artistic thought and hinders our sense of moving forward.

I don’t pace and mutter these days. I stare blankly at projects I was once excited to finish. While the excitement still comes in fleeting waves of interest, I feel if I don’t glom onto the feeling instantly, it runs back into the silence.

My business coach, and friend, Nicole BZ said something that resonated pretty intensely with me the other day.

This isn’t our weight to carry.

This is something that’s happening, and it’s our job to navigate it. But, it’s not our responsibility to feel overwhelmed from it.

 

So, how do we find our voice in this seclusion?

Creative thoughts are floating in the air all the time. Sometimes they flutter into our mind at times when we’re not ready for them. If we don’t use the ideas, they leave our head and find the next person that’s ready for them. The trick doesn’t lie in dropping everything to grab a pencil to jot it down, or to immediately begin the process of making, but rather to trap it and tell it “can’t you tell I’m in traffic? I’ll talk to you later.”

Creativity is all about recall. These days, it’s the most grounding exercise I’ve been practicing. “The zone” is the coveted notion any artist thrives to find. It’s where time halts and our development is the only driving force behind our actions. In this state, we can work for hours or days without a single derivation from the process.

I believe you can access “the zone” at any point. It’s just a matter of recalling those ideas that were floating through the air and immediately returning to the original enthusiasm to generate. This is where the sequestrated state has given us a goal.

How do we recall our creativity in isolation?

Create triggers to remind you of how excited you are to meet your creative idea and begin the work.

Word association – any time you hear, read, or say a word you associate with the idea you’ve trapped, perseverate on it. Let the word swirl around in your mind for a bit and continue to chisel your creative plan. I find that I do more than half of my work away from a camera or a computer. Quick sketches and day dreaming are my best friends when I’m creating.

Imagery – even though taking on a task like creating something new feels like a time-devouring process, we all have time to gawk at social media. Gather images in different platforms that remind you of what you’re hoping to accomplish. Imitate and make a mood board. These days I take the time to print out my favorite ideas and I tape them in front of my work space so I can continually revisit and reimagine my concept as I sit and work on it. Laying those prints out in my studio also helps me gain momentum in finding motivation to work.

Physical movement – back before we couldn’t go outside, I used to go for frequent walks. Well, to be honest, before I had a child, I went on frequent walks. Now I just chase her around the house and backyard. Moving helps me organize my mind. It allows your mind the silence to open the gates and allow those floating creative thoughts in. Whether it be quiet, living room yoga, a run on your treadmill, a stationary bike, or a YouTube workout video, take the time to allow your body to work while your mind relaxes into a welcoming state.

 

Be at play.

Nothing good comes from forcing it. If you’re at play in any situation in life, you’ll find the utmost success in everything you do. Creation is fun. Try making everything you do just as fun. Making eggs, shining your shoes, doing laundry…make them all exercises in creativity. Even though we’re physically quarantined, our mind is free to enjoy life.

 

Implement a ritual

I’m not a fan of schedules or routine. A ritual is something different. It doesn’t require you to do something exactly at the same time or exactly the same way.

Ritual: solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.

Making dinner with my family is my ritual and it leads to me wanting to watch a new movie. It doesn’t matter what time this happens, what we’re having for dinner, or what the movie is. This is something that’s become Pavlovian now. Create a ritual that brings you to the sketchpad, computer, or camera. It doesn’t have to be profound. Just something that feels natural to lead you to creativity in this quarantined state.

 

 

How are you finding creativity in quarantine? Tell me your stories.

 

Thanks for reading my new blog. I’m excited to share more.

As always, if you have questions, please reach out.

My friend Philip Poston did a wonderful article on my family and I for Aurora, Colorado’s newspaper, The Aurora Sentinel if you want to read more about how we’re holding up through all of this as a family.

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