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  • Writer's pictureFire and Iron Productions

Creating during Lockdown

Here we are again.

New year, new lockdown, new... writer? Yes I'm taking over for Nathan today as he's caught up in the valiant efforts to keep our country running. Instead you've got me, Marcus, not as gifted with the pen (keyboard?) as your usual, but I'll sure give it a go!

Like many of you, I'm housebound and thumbs have near been twiddled to stumps. You would have thought that being a creative by nature, there was no end to the potential of what could be 'done' with a day, but after many months of career invalidation, isolation and lack of support, fatigue does begin to set in. There's only so many one-person projects that you can embark on! Now I don't mean for this post to be a drag, we've had enough negativity as it is, so instead I'm going to lay out below a few constructive ways that we as artists can continue to create, keep ourselves entertained and look after our mental health whilst we wait for the industry to recover. Because recover it will! If there's one thing that the entertainment industry has, it's resilience. Actors careers are built off of the back of rejection, with a "yes" often being interspersed by a few hundred "no's", and stories will always need tellers. So, with that as the wind in our sails lets embark on a quest to stay afloat. (Too many metaphors?)

1. Not everything is/should be a project.

If you're anything like me, you usually have several creative things on the go at the same time, and this might be an odd way to start a list about helping people create, but making sure you're not turning everything into your life into a creative outlet can sometimes be the key to focusing that energy. In addition to that, not every idea that comes into your head should be pursued. I'd recommend putting every idea somewhere, whether that's in a journal, word document, iPhone note or otherwise, because the act of writing down those thoughts helps your brain let go of them. By temporarily letting go, it encourages new ideas to come in and the distance allows you to more objectively review which ones are worthwhile when you come back to them.

2. Finding inspiration

For others, new ideas are difficult to come by. Nathan already covered some pretty good points in his blog: 6 Ways to Get Over Writer's Block, but during lockdown we can find it pretty difficult to find things to inspire us. My solution? Forget new ideas, improve old ones! Try things you've always wanted to but never had the excuse. Similarly to the last point, if you've had ideas lying around that never saw the light of day, what can you do with them now you've had additional experience and have a bunch of time on your hands? And don't tell me you've got no previous work, because it simply isn't true. Even if it's an odd writing exercise about monsters on holiday hidden away in your year 2 primary school bookbag, I can guarantee that everyone has a creative project that can be used, improved on and serve as a source of inspiration. Not only will your younger self thank you, but whether its from 3 or 30 years ago there's always a great deal of satisfaction to upcycling or repurposing work that is authentically yours.

3. Staying motivated

One of the hardest things that lockdowns bring upon us is a feeling of helplessness and low mental health. There are already plenty of internet resources out there to aid with that, so I would recommend that before you try and create, you stop and take care of yourself first. Again I am guilty of burrowing into projects to distract myself from life's struggles and whilst it might provide some temporary relief it will contribute to that fatigue I was talking about earlier. It may feel patronizing but we have to be honest with ourselves. Have you done the basics today? Had enough sleep, eaten, drunk water etc. Like I said, there are already enough self-help resources for you to use, but it's important that before we attempt to create we are in a place that facilitates it.

Once we are ready, to borrow a now classic meme: JUST DO IT! DON'T LET YOUR DREAMS BE DREAMS. The beauty of this moment in time is that failure our best tool for success. It can be tempting to make things for others approval, especially with the never ending stream of social media creators, but when you create, do it for you. If something isn't working, move on. The only bar for how successful something is should be how close it is to the vision you had in your minds eye and if it takes 101 versions before it gets to the way you wanted it, no-one has to see the things that came before!

Working on creative projects and setting goals for yourself is a really great way to keep yourself entertained and bring a sense of structure back into your life. During the last lockdown, I undertook the rather hilarious task of teaching myself to scream and growl like a metal singer. Not only did it have me laughing on a daily basis, but there was a deep sense of satisfaction when I achieved it and was able to move my creative project forward. I promise you, if you make the decision to keep progressing your work, no matter how small the steps you take you will get there.

4. Collaborating with others from home

Often our visions are bigger than we can handle by ourselves and we need others to help make it happen. It might be that we're lacking the skill or resources, or maybe just the task itself by nature requires more than one person. Whatever it is, collaboration on creative works can be difficult when we're separated.