How to become more creative during self-isolation

Self-isolation and coronavirus will be a springboard to creativity and innovation. Read on to discover why, and how you can embrace creativity at this time.

The definition of creativity is 'the use of imagination or original ideas to create something'.

This definition is deeply flawed, because there is, of course, no such thing as an original idea. Unless you're God, you're unlikely to create something out of nothing. Instead, you absorb ideas from the world around you. Creativity occurs when you reimagine those ideas in new ways. (I learnt a lot about how the creative brain works by watching "The Creative Brain" on Netflix by David Eagleman.)

Even Albert Einstein was a creative man at heart. He used his imagination to come up with mathematical theories to describe the world around him, but importantly, he was not afraid to fail. So why is this important? Because if you're afraid to fail, you won't create anything new; due to fear of what others might think, or in case it doesn't work out. You might still create in private, but hidden away and shielding yourself from the opinions of people who might actually enhance collective rather than.

So, back to our present predicament – how will coronavirus and self-isolation be a springboard to creativity and innovation? As best-selling author Sharon Lowe says:

"There are two triggers that motivate us to take action; INSPIRATION and DESPERATION".

If seeking creative inspiration is not a habit, then the only time you will be motivated to be creative is out of desperation. Your brain is capable of extraordinary things when the other options run out. That's why there will be a lot of innovations and creative solutions enabling businesses to continue and parents to homeschool in tandem with working. In fact, Ruth Mary Jewellery was born in similar circumstances. While I was unable to go out alone due to severe narcolepsy and needed full-time care, I taught myself to make jewellery in order to make a living.

If you want to become more creative without entering a state of desperation, then you either need more inspiration, or you need to quieten your brain from distractions – or both. You need time to turn ideas around and analyse them in your mind. You need time to draw, time to write or to make some noise (or whatever the process of your creativity might be).

The coronavirus lockdown will offer that space, although the challenge is not to let boredom overtake you. To get started, decide what you would like your creative output to be. For example it could be creative writing, making music, drawing, junk modelling, sewing, wood carving, jewellery making, making potato prints… the list is endless. Next, you need a source of inspiration.

I've devised the following list of ideas, but it's by no means prescriptive. If you're struggling to make a start on anything, pick a number at random, make that your inspiration source, and get creating.

  1. Choose five favourite photos on Instagram or Pinterest
  2. Pick up a book and learn something, or let your imagination just wander
  3. Reminisce at photos from your favourite family holiday
  4. Take pictures on your phone of things that bring you joy around the home
  5. Listen to a podcast, like the ones by Sara Tasker, author of the book Hashtag Authentic 
  6. Download a sample e-book on your kindle
  7. Observe interesting patterns you find in the everyday, like the light that filters through tree branches and casts unique shadows
  8. Find your own inspirational quotes from song lyrics, books and blogs
  9. Create a moodboard from magazines and photographs for a perfect time capsule
  10. Rearrange the furniture in your home
  11. Watch creative how-to videos on YouTube (tip: it's sometimes easier to find them through Pinterest)
  12. Ask a friend to send you their favourite picture from the last month
  13. Watch Blue Planet or any other nature documentary and pause when you see something that awes you
  14. Get a magnifying glass and look at things in detail
  15. Take a look around a museum website, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum

I will leave you with one final thought: embrace vulnerability and let go of how you think things should turn out. Only by realising that it's ok to fail, will you have the freedom to try new things. In Brené Brown's words:

"Show me a company which struggles with creativity and innovation and I'll show you a culture which struggles with shame and lacks vulnerability".

On a final note, Brené Brown's book Dare to Lead is highly recommended if you want to think more creatively and have fewer thoughts that keep you stuck in a rut.


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  • Rosemary on

    Nice article and great suggestions on how to be creative during social isolation. Keep Safe, Ruth Mary.


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