Keeping Creative While Quarantined

We know what’s going on in the world right now. Or, rather, we don’t know, and that’s why people are scared.

One thing that most of us will have to go through — whether we catch the virus or not — is a quarantine. Maybe you’re reading this while in the middle of your 14 day quarantine. Maybe by that time I’ll be quarantined myself!

Staying in your house for 14 days may not sounds like too much fun (especially with a fever), but think of it as an unplanned period of creative productivity.

This is the way Sir Issac Newton saw it. He was in his early 20s and a student at Cambridge when the plague hit London. Like most colleges around the country today, Cambridge sent students home. This resulted in Newton being socially isolated for over a year.

He would later look back on that time as his “year of wonder.” Without professors to guide him and organized classes to keep him in bounds, he let his creativity take over.

He took this time to not only finish his school work, but play around with new theories. One of these theories would later be the basis for his famous theory on gravity.

Why did Sir Issac Newton — and so many others — have such creative breakthroughs while separated from the rest of the world?

Perhaps silence has something to do with it. Silence is the great gift that we take for granted everyday, and actively try to avoid at all costs. Here is a brief excerpt from my article on the virtue of silence:

Like so many virtues in today’s world, silence is hard to achieve. Our attention is being pulled into so many different directions, that it’s no wonder silence is so elusive.

Although it can be hard to achieve, there are so many reasons why we should try:

  • It allows the mind to rest
  • We begin to know ourselves
  • It improves awareness
  • It well help you deal with stress

Philosophers have been contemplating silence for thousands of years. While there are hundreds of ways to achieve it, these three have worked best for me:

  • Silence you phone
  • Set aside time for meditation
  • Refrain from excess talking

During this time of quarantine, don’t look at it as a mandatory time-out, but as the perfect moment to get creative! Here are some great ways to keep your creative mind active while staying inside:

Write that novel

If you have an idea for a novel, or even an outline drawn up, now’s the time to write it. Writing a novel is an incredibly difficult task that requires you to set aside fun distractions for an intimidatingly blank page.

The choice between the two is obvious, and that’s why we more often go out with our friends at night instead of sitting alone at our desks and writing that novel.

Well, the bars closed. So did the restaurants. And so did practically everything else. The United States economy has practically come to a grinding halt.

If that isn’t a sign from above that you should spend this newly-acquired free time writing your novel, I don’t know what is.

Start a blog/vlog/podcast

You don’t to write an entire book to get your thoughts into the world. Perhaps you’re like me, and are more drawn to the world of blogs/vlogs/podcasts for your thoughts.

These smaller projects can take up much of your Covid-19 quarantine time and give you a break from Netflix.

Starting one is an incredibly simple matter:

  • For a blog, check out one of the many free blogging platforms online, such as Blogger and WordPress. Additionally, LinkedIn offers each user a blogging platform, which is great if your audience is largely on LinkedIn.
  • Vlogs only require a phone and an internet connection. Use the phone to shoot the video, and post to your favorite video-friendly site. This could be anything from YouTube to Facebook to LinkedIn.
  • Podcasts, again, only require a phone. No other expensive equipment is necessary. If you have one of the newer models of the Galaxy or iPhone, your phone’s built-in speaker will work as good as any microphone on the market. Just be sure to hold the phone as if you are actually talking on the phone. You can then post your audio using a tool such as Anchor. Seriously, Anchor will lay it all out for you.

Meditate

Meditation. It’s something that almost every successful person in almost every industry as practiced for thousands of years. The benefits of meditation are well-known, and yet it’s still so hard to actually sit down and meditate.

There are countless ways to meditate. Some dictate that you open your mind to receive love and kindness; others say to scan your body for any points of tension; another common form is simply focusing on your breathing.

Which ever you choose, it’s good to stick with it. I’ve been struggling with a 20 minute silent meditation. Imagine that! I’m so involved with noise in my life that spending 20 minutes in silence is something I struggle with!

My meditation is based around religious beliefs, but in general, silent meditation is simply sitting silently. No noise, whether it be external or internal.

“Internal” noise is simply your thoughts. When meditating silently, try not to dwell on any one thought. Instead, acknowledge when a thought comes to your mind, and watch it go away, but never dwell on it.

Listen to music — REALLY listen

No, I don’t mean just having background music. This is the kind of music you probably already listen to everyday. I mean really sit down and give an album your full attention.

Many albums and songs don’t require this. You can listen to an album and decide right away whether it’s good or not. You don’t need dozens of hours of listening and a background in music theory to come to that conclusion.

Other albums, though, are different. Chief among my favorite albums is Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys. I’ve listened to this album countless times since I discovered it about a decade ago.

And here’s the thing: Just like a good book, a good album offers different things to you depending on where you are in life. My thoughts about Pet Sounds have completely changed over the years, even though I decided I liked it from the first listen.

Sitting down with a good album and really giving it a listen will show you different aspects of the art that you would otherwise miss.

Need some inspiration? Check out this list of the 500 Greatest Albums of all Time from Rolling Stone Magazine. How many of them have you really listened to?

Journal

If there is one habit that countless successful people across all industries throughout history have practiced, it’s probably a habit worth trying. I’m not sure how many habits meet this criteria, but certainly the most common is keeping a journal.

A journal has been by the side of history’s most successful and creative men and women, and still continue to be a cherished friend of many world leaders, CEOs, and artists.

The benefits of keeping a journal have been preached by everyone from self-help gurus to business leaders for decades. Yet it’s so hard to keep a journal going, since life gets in the way and other things take priority.

But journaling can be a great way to pass (and keep track of) the time will stuck indoors! Here is a quick summary of How to Journal, taken from my article on the subject:

The benefits that come with keeping a journal are too good to pass up:

  • It organizes your thoughts by placing them on paper
  • It improves your writing, both grammar and penmanship
  • It relieves stress by giving you an outlet to release your emotions and thoughts
  • It provides clarity to issues you may be facing

A Google search will show you all the different ways of keeping a journal, and it can be hard to figure out which is right for you. So the best thing to do is to try out the different methods and see what you like:

  • A daily log will help you keep track of your daily routine
  • A travel log keeps your travels organized and documented
  • A journal can simply be a way to lay out your thoughts, with no rhyme or reason
  • You can also use stream-of-conscious writing to dive into your subconscious

The hardest part of started a regular journal is getting started. Journaling is something so simple that it’s easy to over-thing it. It helps to have a few starting points:

  • Tell a narrative instead of just listing the day’s events
  • Begin with a promise that you will write even just a sentence a day; after a while, you can promise yourself a little more; even a sentence a day is better than three pages a day that you don’t write
  • A daily gratitude journal is an excellent way to start; by listing five things that you are thankful each day, you can build up the habit of journaling while also focusing on the positive aspects of your day
  • Whether you choose to journal in the morning, the evening, or some time in between, it doesn’t matter; choose a time that works for you and dedicate yourself to sticking to it

It’s All About Perspective

Uncertainty can lead to assuming the worst. And staying inside for weeks on end isn’t good for anyone’s sanity. Even an introvert like myself will have a hard time with this.

That’s why it’s good to change your perspective to the situation. There are a TON of things I bet you have been wanting to do that kept getting put off due to daily life.

Well, now’s the time to do those things. For better or for worse, we’re a nation under quarantine. We might as well use this time, like Issac Newton, to become fiercely creative and accomplish what would otherwise never get done.

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