Empty notepad, paints and pencils

How to be creative during coronavirus lockdown

It can be difficult to be creative at the moment. Sometimes, it feels like we’re being pulled in all different directions with no time to concentrate on the things we want to do.

Or maybe stress and constant business means we just don’t have the energy to get things started.

We all have creativity inside us whether we create, write, make music, problem solve or cook. Here are some ideas to help you be creative and feel productive at home:

In this article:

Go outside

How often are you managing to stretch your legs?

If you’ve hit a slump in creativity, have a wander. It might inspire you and will give you some much needed time away from your screen to gather yourself. Take a break. Breathe, Relax.

There’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes after a breather!

How cool would it be if you could change your decor and surroundings in an instant? We’re talking purely digital walls. Wonder if we’d cope better on lockdown if we could dart off to our favourite place, a beach in Dubai, a sushi bar or the bustling souks in Marrakech.

Ok, so digital walls are way off, but if you have a projector, get it set up and project some of your favourite travel locations on the wall.

Also, we should at least enjoy our once-a-day allocation of outdoor exercise. Maybe even take your phone or camera and shoot some photos.

Maybe set up your workstation outside too. Change position as the sun rises and falls. If it’s a little too bright outside to see your screen, grab your parasol and create a spot of shade.

Find inspiration

Think back to when you first started. What inspired you to start an art form or follow a career? Was it one person or style that made you realise you could do things differently?

Maybe it wasn’t even something in your field; maybe a certain band had a song that made you feel powerful or a film made you want to take up pottery.

Revisit those moments by looking back. Watch that film again, play that album, look at the jewellery. And allow yourself some time to explore from that point. Look for similar bands on Spotify, have a trawl through Pinterest or Instagram… even a simple Google Image search can get you excited again.

Here’s the key bit, though: set yourself a deadline. This isn’t like putting off writing your dissertation until you have the perfect playlist. Allow yourself an hour or two to have a search. After this time you can listen to the music or print out the pictures in whatever way works for you. A limited time stops you getting lost in brownie recipes (unless you want to be inspired by food!) and keeps that focus. You can repeat it another day if it works for you. Whatever gets that spark back.

Have a reason to be creative

Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to be creative. Or there needs to be a solid reason. At the moment, when people are isolated, social connection can be a great one.

So why not have a jam session over Skype. If you’re always saying you should meet up with someone, then why not get in touch with them and knit together over the internet? Or offer to help out a friend with proofreading, if you like to write, or collaborate on a short story or article (like we did with what you’re reading now). You’re encouraging each other while you do something positive.

A deadline or specific project can also be a great motivator. Maybe you have a relative with a big birthday coming up, or an anniversary. Big parties aren’t really an option at the moment, but you can still show you care. There’s something to work towards straight away, with the added excitement of a surprise.

If that doesn’t apply to you, there are always projects for a good cause. Maybe you’ll use all that wool if you’re making hats for premature babies or you’ll produce some art if you could send it to a care home. Plenty of charities and good causes are looking for volunteers and contributors so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one that matches your skills and interests.

Learn new skills

Working from home can open up opportunities to learn something new. Yes, we’re still busy in our jobs, but we should dedicate some time to develop our skills and broaden our minds.

Perhaps some of these ideas might spark your imagination:

  • Listen to audio books while you work
  • Take part in an online tutorial before you start your daily routine
  • Join one of the many free school lessons – get back to basics!
  • Attend a virtual networking event – there’s often something to learn
  • Do an online language course
  • Invest in some courses from Udemy – courses sometimes drop to £10!
  • Try a new recipe

Keep that creative spark alive

Once you’re back to feeling creative, how do you keep it alive? For one thing, don’t lose those ideas. It can be easy to get distracted and forget the things you wanted to do next. Organise things in a way that works for you.

Maybe you can have post-it notes with ideas on around your mirror. Or if you’re more digital, try a Pinterest board for future projects.

Maybe have a vision board about things you want to achieve. Do you want to decorate a DIY wedding next year? Do you want to finally write that book? Or publish some recipes? It’s all do-able, but it won’t happen if you don’t keep working on it.

Set aside some time each day – maybe an hour of general creativity, half an hour of painting after lunch or even just a short podcast to give you ideas. Make sure it fits with your day – don’t try to write a thousand words first thing if your brain won’t wake up until lunch.

If you feel you don’t have much spare time, consider a “creativity burst” between other tasks. Or use it to chill out in the evenings. Make it a task on your “to do” list if it motivates you.

Create a space

Lockdown is starting to bring out the best (and worst) in a lot of people during these challenging times.

Our children are around 24/7 and there are only so many rooms we can escape to.

It’s important to create a dedicated space to help spark your creativity and to motivate you. We’ve seen people working on ironing boards, window sills and even on the tumble dryer.

What does your workspace look like?

Here’s Gemma’s…

Gemma's creative space - her home office in Nottingham

Do you use different areas in your home to:

  • work?
  • eat?
  • exercise?
  • relax?
  • read?
  • socialise with your family?

Do you move to a different room for a change of scenery?

Your challenge: Design your creative lockdown workspace

Bearing in mind what you need to successfully (and happily) do your work and remain sane, sketch out what your ideal lockdown workspace would look like. Here’s what to do:
  1. Make a note of all the attributes that make up your ideal workspace
  2. Sketch your workspace layout
  3. Attach a photo of your sketch to the comments over on LinkedIn
  4. Tell us a bit about it

Here are our workspace sketches

Gemma

Gemma's creative workspace - for surviving the coronavirus lockdown

Mine isn’t drastically different from my actual workspace. My partner and I mostly work in the same room, me on a single desk with dual screens (with to-do list Post-it notes stuck around all sides) and Jamie on his laptop.

In an ideal world, we’d have enough space for a double desk. But there would have to be a sound-proof barrier between us as he has ridiculously loud conversations over Skype – all day long! The barrier would still let light and air through though.

We’d have comedy on the telly, providing some much needed giggles in the background. I’m probably going to watch Benidorm from start to finish for the umpteenth time during lockdown.

I’d have bifold doors fitted to help bring the inside out and the outside in. But they’d need blackout blinds as I like the room a little darker when I’m processing photos.

There would be a comfortable giant beanbag for those much needed breaks away from the screen. And a little snack station in the corner for healthy eats and occasional treats.

Karen

Karen's creative workspace - for surviving the coronavirus lockdown

I need some light, and preferably air once it’s warm enough. Though I do have to shut the doors if I’m working on some small jewellery – don’t want little gems falling onto the floor!

At the moment my workbench and computer are in different places which isn’t ideal. I’d rather have a place with all the things I need. A fold out workbench with all my tools stored would be ideal.

I’d like to have some space on the sofa for reading / general research and keeping in touch. And then a desk for work time to differentiate.

And music, lots of lovely music!

How this article came about

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a networking event that hasn’t had a positive outcome.

On Monday 23 March, Tamily Cookson hosted a Virtual Business Networking event using Zoom. Tamily is hosting another one on Monday 30 March 5-6pm – why not join in?

Aside from catching up with a few familiar faces, I met the lovely Karen Duncan from PonyPonyPony, who, by the way, designs the most stunning and bespoke silver jewellery.

During the event, we discussed things that we sometimes struggle with in business. I talked about how I can never think of what to write about and that I worry my content isn’t engaging enough. We bounced a few ideas around – it was great.

After the event, Karen connected with me and suggested that we collaborate on an article.

We had a video call on Wednesday to discuss what to write about and within a couple of hours, spread over the week we co-wrote this article about being creative while on lockdown.

We hope you find our collaborative efforts a useful read.

Gemma and Karen

Gemma Wilks - LinkedIn Headshot, Dating and Brand Photographer, Photography by Gem

Gemma Wilks - Photographer

I help individuals and businesses stand out with eye-catching and on-brand photography.

Karen Duncan - Jewellery Designer, PonyPonyPony

Karen Duncan - Jewellery Designer

I design and create jewellery that makes people feel fabulous and starts conversations