There was a time in our lives when we would spend the majority of our day in creative pursuits. Painting, drawing, writing stories, building castles out of Lego … whatever your preferred pre-school activity, creativity was at the heart of what we did.
As we moved on in our education and entered the workplace, creativity was often pushed aside in the great race to achieve. However, as the world has retreated indoors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we have again and again turned to creative pursuits to occupy our time, soothe our shattered nerves and perhaps even find some meaning in the madness.
The ubiquitous tweet that announced that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while quarantined during a plague outbreak launched a thousand ripostes; from the motivated ploughing through their first novel, to those whose self-isolation activities never got past Netflix. In this entirely new situation, every individual has a right to react in whatever way they want, and there is much to be said for slowing down.
However, rediscovering another way to express ourselves has been a key theme in how communities are reacting to quarantine throughout the world. Many people have used their creative skills to help those on the front line, such as the makers studios producing protective visors on their 3D printers, or people at home making masks to send to those most at risk. It’s clear that quarantine has led to a boom in all things creative—not just the strictly ‘useful’—by allowing us the time to rediscover old hobbies or favourite pastimes.
Among the endless Instagram Stories of sourdough starters, watercolour paintings and live-streamed DJ sets, lies a deeper meaning. Creativity can help us make sense of stressful or unusual situations, improve our mood, and even help us deal with trauma.
As we live through these uncertain times—and without our usual support networks of family, friends and colleagues—creativity can guide us through; offering us a path to navigate our emotions and reactions to the current crisis.
The breakdown of ‘normal’ life has also contributed to this boom in creative output, as creativity is normally linked to the breaking or flouting of rules. As the norms that have governed our daily lives are turned on their heads, so are our psychological barriers, and we feel freer to pursue creative outlets that may seem out of the ordinary. Creativity flourishes where disruption is king.
Creativity with a small ‘c’ is often overlooked, many believe that unless we’re writing the next Great American Novel or mastering Chopin’s Études, there’s no point. More recently the phenomena of the side-hustle has convinced us that our free time must be filled with hobbies that can be monetised, the 5pm—9pm robbing us of the freedom to create, make and express ourselves just, well, because.
Now the world has slowed down, let’s just find a way to create, to be in the moment, express ourselves, in whatever medium we choose.