Staying Inspired in A Locked-Down World

By Kate Orson

Humans are social creatures and our minds are designed to work with others together. If you are a creative person, you may find your creativity feeling a little dulled these days. COVID means there are less opportunities to go out and seek inspiration, or be around other minds to get inspired. Lack of ideas can also lead to lack of hope and optimism about the future.

I live in Italy, and one day recently I found myself in the city of Florence with time to spare. I wondered the backstreets of cobbled lanes with small boutique shops. I went by a sculptor’s studio, a traditional mask making shop, and musical instrument repair shop. As I walked, I found my imagination stirring. The places I passed seemed steeped in history and rich in stories.

I came home feeling alive and full of ideas for things I wanted to write, including this article. I realised that this is what had been missing. In this sterile world of lockdown and social distancing, vibrancy and inspiration had disappeared.

If you are a creative person you may have already realised that in order to create output, you need some kind of creative input. This may sadly be lacking during these times. However, with a little conscious thought you can seek out opportunities to feed your creative soul.

My experience reminded me of the concept of the ‘Artist’s Date’ which comes from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. An artist’s date is anything that nurtures your creative soul. It is kind of like assigning yourself time to play, free of the adult responsibilities to be productive or ‘do’ anything in particular. Artist dates are time spent solo so you can really spend time listening to yourself.

Choosing an artist’s date is really about thinking about who you are, and what ignites your creative spark. What do you love to do? What feels playful and fun? If you don’t have a particular artistic practise but would like to feel more creative, or aren’t sure what to choose, then try some of the items below, or brainstorm your own list.

  1. Visit a museum or art gallery

Strolling around your local museum or art gallery can get your creative brain whirring. If the museums around you are closed then try a virtual tour. ArtFund is a UK organisation that supports museums and art galleries. They also list some online art exhibitions. You could also take yourself on a virtual tour of some of the best galleries in the world including The Lourvre, Paris, The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Van Gogh musuem in Amsterdam.

  1. Go on an art supplies shopping trip

Whether you need canvases and paints, or some notebooks, going shopping for supplies can be an inspiring experience in itself. Visiting smaller independent shops in lively neighbourhoods, and taking time to browse allows it to feel less like a simple item on your to do list, but a treat to savour.

  1. Try something different

Doing something completely new wakes up the brain, causing fresh neural connections to be formed. It might be just what you need to start thinking differently. Whether it’s trying origami, going on a nature walk to take some photographs, or attending a dance class, there is so much you can choose from. Time and distance need not be a limiting factor as now there are so many opportunities to learn, or grow online.

  1. Learn something new

Stimulating your brain to the world around you can be inspiring. Watch some jaw-dropping Ted Talks, begin to learn a new language, take an online writing class, rent a documentary movie, or go on a virtual city tour.  If there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn but don’t feel like you have the time, an Artist’s Date is the perfect opportunity to get started.

  1. Pamper Yourself

Whatever you choose the emphasis should be on play, fun, and nurturing yourself. You don’t have to do anything particularly ‘artistic’ but simply choose what appeals. Sometimes pampering yourself and simply asking yourself what you need right now, can be the best way to spend some quality alone time.  Grab some of your favourite magazines, and run yourself a luxurious bath. Take your time to relax and let your mind unwind. You never know what creative ideas make come flooding in when you give yourself some ‘me’ time.

For more Artist Date suggestions, check out this list of 101 ideas from the Artist’s Date Blog.

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