A common hindrance to creativity is the compartmentalization of time. One gets an idea or an inspiration, and start to take the baby steps – gather raw material, establish a poetic flow, or develop the base of an artwork – and then realize that its time for the office, or an appointment, a client meeting, or even fetching grocery or satiating a panging craving.
Meeting punctualities and deadlines, operating on tight schedules, and seeking instant gratification of minor diversionary desires disrupt focus and prevent the establishment of a continuity that is vital for creating something ambitious or perfecting a skill or product. It takes a while for productivity to take off – it clumsily totters for a while before breaking into a sustained gallop. But more often than not, amid the mundane rhythms of daily life, our livelihood occupancies spare little time for us to sustain such an undistracted, focussed, continuous pursuit.
Protracted quarantine lockdowns provide such unpunctuated continuity that weekends can never. Not only do they provide time to work at a stretch, but they also afford the luxury to ration time as you wish, interspersing work periods with desired breaks of rest, naps, and recreation. With most material activities and pursuits suspended, there is no pressing perturbation of lagging behind in the competition, your free time aligns with that of the world around you, and hence your creativity with theirs.
The entire world is experiencing a creative upsurge from non-professionals, and there is a sort of resonance between the resurgence of interest in creators and the audience, who are more often than not, if not always overlapping. Freedom of mind is the greatest possible incentive to free-mindedness. There is no more a need to mind those sales targets, that impending business trip, or that pending errand.
Shakespeare’s King Lear and Macbeth, Newton’s Calculus, and Boccaccio’s Decameron were all drafted during epidemic isolations. While peer pressure from long-deceased historical figures is the last thing we need during dismal times, we can take it as inspiration for doing what we love, and fulfilling our creative ambitions, then perceiving them as targets of performance or achievement.
Writing is one of the things that require a fair bit of initial investment of focus before things get set into motion and start rolling and flowing of their own volition. It might seem a daunting task to get down to pen a play, a novel, or even a skit script. However, one can use various formats, prescribed rules and constraints, and word-length limits as stepping stones to these. Flash Fiction provides the ideal tinder-kit to get started with creative writing. Discovering, disentangling, identifying and adapting an original idea, and tying together all loose ends after invoking the elements of humor, emotion, tragedy, heroism, surprise, and virtue might seem a tall order. But this uphill haul gets lax if you pitch your tents at basecamps – nanotale, microfiction, fanfiction, short story, novella, play, and novel.
Possibilities aren’t just limited to writing. It is never too late to learn something new. Online courses are often modular and proceed at your pace, so you could take them one lesson at a time, ingesting, digesting, absorbing and assimilating them to internalize their concepts. The more you graze, the more you shall ruminate throughout the day – a constant upchurn of maturing ideas brewing as a fine concoction.
You could learn to play the keyboard, to knife-paint, or even to write your first, very special sonnet – something guaranteed to give you that much-needed dopamine hit from a sense of novelty, nostalgia, belongingness, and possession. You could also let different creative pursuits intersect, intertwine, or interplay – try, for instance, ekphrasis – dramatically, rhetorically, or poetically describe a work of art. For inspiration, take one of those exclusive myriad grand, virtual tours that the world’s most stupendous museums and galleries are offering during the lockdown and avail the limited-time prerogative to sneak a peek into the previously-unavailable.
You could try your hands at a manga, a comic or a graphic novel – start with a one-shot, and if you relate to the characters, let their thoughts linger and swirl, and develop it into a full-fledged serial. This is also an ideal time for collection – do everything of a particular set or do one thing from each set – behold, view, watch, perform, receive, instantiate, or create. It’s a good time to obsess over and act out of the sake of completeness. You could draft a florilegium of every medium, genre, structural form, style, format, and prescription of poetry, or try to come up with a doodle of the names of every President of your country, representing their salient traits and/or landmark decisions, maybe pen a social media bio for each element of the Periodic Table, or convey a history timeline entirely through memes. Whatever rows your boat!
Pervasive prolonged isolation, such as a national lockdown, is a time to ponder, tinker, and explore the infinite possibilities that everyday life teems with, as well as have adventures dabbling into the incredible myriad of milieus that the microcosm of the internet has to offer – you might as well land your new hobby or even your next job there. Even Science has shown that the key to prolonging your perception of time and thus having a longer, fuller-filling, more fulfilling life is to have a diversity of experience. So sprawl a hundred arms as an oriental deity, and wield the myriad tools of craft that the miraculous forge of the internet has to offer!