Seeing the barren shelves in the toilet paper aisle and shoppers wearing face masks at grocery stores can make it seem like we are living in a dystopia. And though our situation may not look quite like “The Hunger Games,” life has drastically changed. Schools have switched to online, businesses have shut down, friends can no longer spend time together in person. But while practicing social distancing is trying in many ways, it also poses a unique opportunity for creative people. Many writers and artists work best in isolation. If artists are able to utilize their quarantine effectively, the next great art, novels, and poetry could rise from this period of uncertainty.
When stuck at home, weeks can quickly drag on into boredom. Many find themselves devoting hours to social media or video games. But for those who enjoy writing or creating art, freedom from outside commitments can be motivating. Being alone can benefit the creative process. An artist could set up a studio or make daily commitments to sketchbook drawing. A writer could snuggle up in bed with a journal or sit in a quiet room with a laptop. Writers who benefit from reading may also have more time to do so.
While time alone can give creative types an opportunity to produce new work, the unique situation of countries implementing social distancing is also acting as a source of inspiration. Many filmmakers are creating documentaries about COVID-19, but others are taking a more lighthearted approach. According to NPR, two executive producers of “The Office” have announced they are developing a sitcom where members of a company are forced by their boss to virtually interact each day. Though film and television production have been restricted because of the virus, the change in lifestyle occurring across the world could inspire shows, writing and songs that may not have existed otherwise.
Quarantine may benefit the creative process, but it has also hurt artists financially. Small businesses have been forced to shut down, and many events like Emerald City Comic Con and Ace Comic Con Northeast have been postponed. This has left artists who rely heavily on selling art at conventions struggling to make enough money. Some large conventions, though, have tried to promote artists digitally by creating profiles for each artist and directing viewers to their websites. Communities are doing their best to support artists so they can make it through the financial insecurity of the time.
For artists who do not need to worry about income, quarantine can be a time to develop skills. Teenagers and adults who create artwork or write as a hobby can experiment with different kinds of media. Writers could create quarantine journals where they document their daily schedule or reflect on the pandemic. Poets and songwriters could draw inspiration from current events and feelings of uncertainty. Authors may begin dystopian stories, using details from their experience now. Others could use writing as an escape from the situation and write stories completely unrelated to coronavirus. Those who enjoy more visual arts could create quarantine scrapbooks filled with screenshots of playing video games with friends, lists of the best television shows to watch, drawings of daily events. With online schooling being implemented, some art teachers are taking the opportunity to teach digital art. Artists could experiment more with various ways of creating art on computers. Some artists may even be able to use their skills to help others. Those who are able to sew could help with the shortage of face masks by creating their own to donate.
The possibilities for artists and writers are endless, but often having ideas of what to create is different from actually doing the work. There are many factors that can help with productivity. Making a daily commitment, like writing an hour each day or filling up a sketchbook page every morning could ensure an artist builds their skill a little each day. Even when creativity does not come as easily, committing to art for a certain amount of time will still help with personal growth. Another factor that may help the creative process is workspace. Having distraction-free place allows artists to focus on their work and be more productive. To find motivation, writers and artist can connect with others online. Creative people may share inspiration, prompts, or challenges on social media. There are many platforms where art can be shared.
Despite the literature, film, music, and paintings that fill our world, the value of art is often overlooked. Movies and streaming services are considered to be too expensive, and access to libraries can be taken for granted. Many see forms of artistic expression as less valuable than careers related to science or math. But during this period of isolation, when we can no longer go out to malls or restaurants, art has become a main source of entertainment. People across the world are getting through the days by binging TV shows, listening to music, and reading books. The importance of art is becoming more clear.
Though having to stay home in the midst of a worldwide pandemic can be nerve-wracking and lonely, art allows us to entertain ourselves and process emotion. Quarantine for some can be a time of innovation rather than tension. If Isaac Newton began forming his laws of motion during quarantine for the Plague, the writers, artists, and inventors of our time can come out of this pandemic with a wide range of new books, songs, television shows, photographs and paintings. Art will survive.