How Can I Be Creative When My Inspiration Comes From Life Outdoors??

Illustration by Isabella Scheier

Stumbling in from a late night out, sitting in a café watching people walk by, alcohol flavoured kisses in the dark corners of a bar. These are moments that have coloured my writing, and as they are stripped from me by the recent lockdown I have found myself - for quite possibly the first time in my life - at a loss for words. My once colourful world lens has shifted into one that is solely focused on the four bland walls of my bedroom, trying to pinpoint a starting point for my writing.

For an individual that uses outdoor experiences to drive her writing, the lockdown has brought my creative process to a sudden standstill.

Most of my days now have become increasingly centred around emerging from my duvet cocoon to make a coffee then returning to bed to watch a Netflix show about cartoon birds that are getting more action then I could even dream of. To say that I am uninspired would be an understatement.

I find myself operating life on a limited scale: wake up, work from home, eat, sleep, wake up, work from home, eat, sleep. The days blur into one and I am increasingly spending my time consciously avoiding my notepads and my word documents in favour of a diet of social media and news reports. My prose has shifted from yarns of epic adventures to brief words about lagging zoom calls, my stories of romantic moments have warped into tales of love affairs conducted over facetime.

A number of people have taken lockdown as the perfect opportunity to work on their literary talents or their artistic abilities. I sadly am not one of those people. I find my inspiration in coffee shops hidden in the corners of London or on bus journeys stuck in rush hour traffic; there I can spend hours with my headphones jammed in and my head buried in my notepads completely oblivious to the world around me. Now I find myself sitting perched on my steps, notepad spread open on my knees, surrounded by the audio of my family chatting, my notes blank apart from a few words roughly scribbled on the page only to be swiftly scrawled over. So must I accept that my creativity will have to participate in an involuntary lockdown as well?

As the days grow darker and we remain confined to single spaces it can be hard to find inspiration to create. Photoshoots are forced to be conducted over screens and interviews held with phones clutched in hands, much like the lovesick teenagers of the past twirling phone cords around fingers as they talk to their one true love. It is a new world and adapting to it is set to be a challenge.

Perhaps creating in the absence of inspiration is the biggest test of ability, and this statement seems to characterise the mentality of a number of individuals during lockdown. Yet the unrealistic deadlines we place on ourselves of being able to create multiple pieces of our best work whilst we spend our days indoors is one that is placing strain on our passion for our projects.

So, what can be done to counteract this lack of inspiration?

I have found that these times have prompted me to look back at my old words and to look back on old moments for sources of inspiration. Perhaps that scribble in the back cover of a journal can begin to take shape in a new form of artwork or the word maps dispensed onto post it notes can become stunning pieces.

Now is the time to take advantage of spaces such as parks, removing yourself from indoor confinement and taking a moment to breathe in the fresh air and watch from afar as people once again begin to take lockdown as the perfect opportunity to achieve their goals of becoming Mo Farah. Moments like that can go a long way in stirring the beginnings of inspiration in barren minds.

Whether you are struggling to finish a work project or a personal project take care to set aside a time where you can create without feeling as though you are forcing yourself to create for the sake of achieving arbitrary standards of productivity that will ultimately leave you feeling frustrated and disillusioned with the creative process.

Above all we have to allow ourselves grace. We are living through a pandemic, the inability to find the motivation or the desire to create is perfectly normal. With times that place such an emotional burden on us it is an achievement to get out of bed and to simply make it through the day.

Article by Rachella Lartey