Creating During Quarantine

by Akima A. Brown (admin contributor)


Hi there fellow creatives,
I hope this is finding you all in good health and high spirits. It’s been a rough couple weeks for the world, but i know if anyone can get through it it’s us. We, the creative minds of the world, who step into life with genuine authenticity are the ones who will find ways to come out of this on top. We are the ones who will boost morale and shift the paradigm… simultaneously — maybe even subsequently, but I digress.

On more than one occasion in the last few weeks, it has to my attention that my peers are enduring immeasurable loss. While many are trying to o grapple with a whole new wold of social distancing,teleconferencing, and dealing with the hard reality that’ll those meetings, indeed, could have been emails, countless freelancers and uninsured, temporary workers are — indefinitely — without any foreseeable incomes steams.

Films productions around the world have ceased. And though many prominent industry players have vowed to help, much of the aid is earmarked for specific personnel roles. There’s hope that America’s federal government will follow in the steps of their foreign peers and extend disaster relief unemployment insurances for those who were actively displaced from work and those who were suspended pre-start. Currently, there are discussions about stipends for all Americans earning less than $75K per year to help stimulate the economy.

For all of that, however, it does little if it doesn’t help right now. if you’re one of the many freelance creatives trying to find a way to generate revenue during this time, here are some things that might help you.

1. Shelter-in-place and write that masterpiece. That’s right I said it. Stay your butt home and create. By now you’ve seen the memes about Shakespeare writing during the plague and Mary Shelley drafting “Frankenstein” while ill in isolation. Yes, despite the end of the world as they knew it happening all around them, they showed up daily to their seats, put their behinds in them, and worked. And that’s just what I’m telling you to do. We’ll get to why in just a moment.

2. Make space for yourself to create. This one takes work, but it’s not impossible. Whether it’s at the kitchen table, a tray near the window, or a corner of your bed. Get someplace that makes you feel relaxed and puts you in the zone. The key is to take the path of least resistance. Make it simple so it’s harder NOT to finish. Be honest with yourself, though. If it’s too comfy, you’re chances of slacking up increase exponentially. If the kitchen table makes you snack more than work, move. If the window makes you daydream more than work, move. If the bed makes you snooze more than work… take a nap, then move. You’re home and you’re a creative with time on your hands. Create!

3. Keep it together. Make a schedule. If you already have one, stick as closely to it as possible. Get up at your normal time, or if it helps, normal minus your commute. Get up, get dressed, and get started. Design a system, then implement it. Creating structure can be hard or some of us who deal in big pictures and abstracts, but it’s imperative for getting things done.

4. Be patient. When all else fails: breathe. There’s a lot going on right now; in the world, in your head, and mostly likely in your home. Perhaps you or someone you love is immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable. Maybe you’re trying to manage medications, critical conditions, or minimize the risk of infection or spread. If you’re like the thousands of parents who’ve found themselves quarantined with kids, you’re likely trying to figure out multiple daily schedules, activities, enrichment, education, and hygiene, all while keeping things sanitary and sane… all within four walls.

This is new terrain for us all. No one is going to get it right the first time… or at all, honestly. But the key is to be resilient and remain patient. Extend yourself a load of grace. Don’t be afraid to cal it quits and stop short when things aren’t working. are the time to regroup and start over. Consider what it would mean to keep pushing. Will it do more damage to keep moving forward than it would to take a step back and create a new plan?

All in all, take your time, take a breath, take hold of your time, and create!

1. This too shall pass. When all is said and done, this too shall pass. There will come a day when productions resume, galleries re-open, and companies seek out contractors for design gigs. This is not a question of if, but when. As such, you want to be ready. Keep your work fresh, relevant, and current. Keep up with emerging industry trends and stay informed about new skills required for success.

2. The times they are a’changing. with the newfound emphasis on social distancing, more and more companies are focusing on the introduction and integration of virtual platforms. Design teams are going to need people who are capable of creating incredible content AND collaborating online with teammates. By familiarizing yourself with the process now and developing a level of expertise before it’s needed, you create an opportunity and position yourself for indispensability. “Preparation + Opportunity = Success.”

3. Because this is who you are. Okay, this might be a bit of my existential philosopher seeping out but I can’t express this enough. You can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t write or a director if you don’t direct. You can’t say you’re an artist if you don’t… art. You know what I mean. For many of us, we opted (or were kicked) out of the traditional 9-5 because we fare better and thrive more easily beyond its limits. Some of us toe the line as hybrids; understanding how to serve in the traditional sphere but doing so on our terms as freelancers, contractors, and temporary project personnel. Don’t stop being who are because things change. Do what you know, then build from there. If you are a creative, create.

This reclusion may not be the respite we wanted, but it can be the catalyst for transformation and reinvention that we need. Indeed, some of the the greatest creations are born in hardship.

I like to say, “What would you do if all you had was yourself, a pad, a pen, and a corner?” Now’s the time to find out. Be your genuine, authentic, unapologetic self. Do what you do and give the world you.

Maybe it will be during this time that you find a better means of operation that also improves the current conditions of our planet. Perhaps you’ll write the great, contemporary masterpiece that will bridge divides and reshape the state of global affairs. You know, no pressure.

And if you’re reading this with a houseful of kids (or just the one kid who feels like a houseful) I’ll share more next time about how you’re not only able to do this… but more likely to. Until then, I pray our readers are safe and well throughout this time.

Last, but not least, I want to extend a very special thanks to our first responders, healthcare/patient aid professionals, grocery store employees, and other essential personnel who are keeping u safe, strong, functional, and healthy during this time at the risk of themselves and their families. We see you and we appreciate you.

*If you’re reading this, we — at BTG — implore you to please do your part to flatten the curve. Be safe and stay home; not to keep from getting COVID-19, but to keep from spreading it.*

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