Lockdown doesn’t have to feel like detention.
(Not that I’ve ever experienced detention, since I was a massive kiss arse in school.)
Of course, for some the experience won’t be pleasant. Far from it.
For people who live alone or have mental health issues, it’s likely to be a very difficult time. As someone who lives with their partner – and still has a job – I’m 100% in a position of privilege.
Despite all of the downsides, lockdown can be a time for creativity to flourish.
It’s tempting to sit on your arse and scroll on your phone 24/7. With a constant stream of news and social media updates, it’s hard not to.
But in the confusion and fear of everything going on, we can find ways to enjoy this time (ish).
Since finishing uni, I’ve found it difficult to find time for creative hobbies.
Full-time work completely drains my energy. Yes, I update this blog now and again, but the 9-5 grind almost sucks my creative juices dry.
Partly, this is my own lack of discipline. But it’s also a culture that rewards overworking and profits (over pretty much anything else).
I’d love to spend more time on this blog, but a girl gotta eat!
Now, with my weekends free, I’ve got more time for creative pursuits that don’t earn me a dime. And many of you (okay, my five readers) will have a bit more time too.
Even if it’s just an hour or so a week, why not jump back into a creative project you’ve been neglecting?
Naysayers on social media might take the piss.
Twitter culture is often snarky and afraid of the sincerity. Sean O’Neill, writing for Vice, derides people who criticise others for using this time to be creative.
Yes, this pandemic will produce a lot of shit art. But, as he argues: “Your enemy is not the smalltime creator with more time to piss about.
“Your enemy is a system that suffocates creativity at every turn, in favour of a monoculture of empty productivity. We should be welcoming its brief demise with open arms.”
So how can you reconnect with your creative side during lockdown? Below are five quick ideas.
They’re hardly groundbreaking. I know. But they might bring you a little joy and help you make the most of your time indoors.
1. Write and Reflect
It doesn’t matter what. Just write.
Pen a letter to a loved one, start a lockdown journal, or start blogging like me!
It’s easy to understand the power of writing. It can be an incredibly therapeutic way to process your thoughts and emotions.
If I’m ever struggling, I find it’s a good way to gain a little perspective.
During my second year of uni, I was horrendously stressed. So, at the end of every day, I wrote down one good thing that had happened in the past 24 hours.
This ‘Happy Diary’ helped me to end the day on a high. It’s a bit cringe, but it made a huge difference.
You don’t have to be a good writer, or even make it public. No one’s asking you to plaster it over the internet.
I wrote my ‘Happy Diary’ in the notes app on my phone, not a huge billboard for everyone to read. Just do what’s comfortable for you.
2. Draw and Unwind
No one’s expecting a masterpiece. But it can be a great way to switch off from the world.
When I’ve had a stressful day, I plonk myself down on the sofa, play a podcast and get drawing.
It’s a calming way to wind down and release some tension.
Since finishing sixth form, I haven’t had much time to draw, but lockdown has presented the perfect opportunity to get back into it.
It transports me back to lazy summer days in the garden as a teenager, and pissing about in art class with my friends.
What you create kinda depends on what materials you have – no one’s going to Hobbycraft anytime soon – but you can still draw with just a pen and paper. Using a drawing app on your phone will do too.
Just give it a go. It’s a great mindfulness tool that can give you a jolt of nostalgia.
3. Cook and Discover
Panic buying seems to have calmed down a bit. But there are still shortages in supermarkets (pasta, remember her?).
With fewer ingredients available, now is a great time to get experimenting.
We all get stuck in a rut of cooking the same things over and over. Why not try out a new recipe, or head to a new aisle in Tesco and pick up something you’ve never tried before?
If you only have a few bits in, can you dream up a brand new dish?
If you’re not a natural cook, there are plenty of places to get inspiration.
Here’s an idea: follow Jack Monroe on Twitter. Every day at 5 ish, you can Tweet them with whatever you have in your cupboard. No matter how weird the ingredients, they’re guaranteed to come up with a recipe for you.
After relying on food banks, they dreamed up delicious recipes using store cupboard essentials. You can find these recipes in Jack’s book, Tin Can Cook.
Pasta and bread are tricky to find at the minute. So why not have a go at making your own?
Yes, making Insta-friendly sourdough is something every 20-something creative type is doing right now.
But seeing your doughy boi rise and turn into a springy loaf is genuinely rewarding.
4. Make Do and Mend
For better or worse, capitalism is taking a bit of a hiatus.
Unemployment has skyrocketed, but there are some upsides.
It’s becoming harder for us to keep buying new things. For the next few months, we’ll just have to make do with what we have.
In a culture of fast fashion and ‘new is better,’ plenty of clothes get tossed out after a few uses. Now, we’ll have to repair what’s broken.
But this doesn’t have to be a burden. In fact, there’s lots of joy and satisfaction you can gain from repairing old things.
Already, I’ve sewn up holes and pockets in my jeans, which means I won’t have to fork out £20 for a new pair.
You don’t need a sewing machine or any fancy kit to get started. You can even get mini sewing kits from Poundland that do the trick.
This isn’t limited to clothes either. Now is a great time to fix that table, plant pot or picture frame.
It doesn’t have to feel like a chore. If you take it slow, get creative and enjoy yourself, you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel the benefits.
Even better, you’ll save yourself a few bob (and the planet at the same time).
5. Learn Something New
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still learning new things every day at work. It’s cliché, but it’s true.
However, this is all with the aim of increasing my performance and, let’s be real, the company’s profits.
Even at uni, I was so shit scared of not getting a job that I didn’t get to truly enjoy what I was learning.
Now, I have some time to learn new things – just for the sake of it.
I’ve been able to reconnect with learning in a context completely divorced from capitalism. And, to be honest, it’s felt like a breath of fresh air.
The education system, for me at least, felt like a means of getting a good job. Don’t get me wrong, I had some incredible teachers and tutors along the way, but it was always something I couldn’t quite shake.
I’ve just finished a beginner’s introduction to sociology – something I’ve never studied before – and I’ve got a politics textbook on the shelf to get stuck into.
If you’re not one for dusting off an old textbook, there are lots of online courses to try too.
The Open University has just made a load of their online courses free. There are modules on history, art, the environment, politics and more. It’s the perfect way to get started.
These are just a few ways of spending your time during lockdown. It’s not the most ideal situation to be in, I admit.
It’s also a bit weird that it’s taken a global pandemic to give me the kick up the arse to do these things.
I don’t want to take away from the seriousness of what’s going on. But, hopefully, this will help you to get some joy in the weeks ahead.