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Can Lockdown Enhanced Creativity

The world has been in various phases of lockdown from the past seven months. No one has any idea of how long we will be living in this manner. It is not just weeks or months; we are talking years. Working from home is going to become a norm pretty soon if it hasn’t already.

While there are plenty of reports saying that productivity has gone up with lockdown, but what about creativity. Are we feeling more creative working from the confinement of our homes? Are we coming up with more ideas in isolation?

Isolation is beginning to get on people’s nerves. Office workers are missing their workplace (which not so long ago was they hated the most). Lack of socializing is driving people crazy. The common complaint is boredom.

But there is one thing that blossom in boredom- creativity.

How can one be creative when one is bored?

Agatha Christie made an explicit link between her writing and childhood boredom:

People often ask me what made me take up writing. Many of them, I fancy, wonder whether to take my answer seriously, although it’s a strictly truthful one. You see, I put it all down to the fact that I never had any education. Perhaps I’d better qualify that — by admitting that I did eventually go to school in Paris when I was 16 or thereabouts. But until then, apart from being taught a little arithmetic, I’d had no lessons to speak of at all. Although I was gloriously idle, in those days children had to do a good many things for themselves. They made their own doll’s furniture, and they made Christmas presents to give to their friends. (Nowadays, they’re just given money and told to buy their presents in a big store.) I found myself making up stories and acting the different parts and there’s nothing like boredom to make you write. So by the time I was sixteen or seventeen, I’d written quite a number of short stories and one long dreary novel.

Austin Kleon has been saying for a while that to be creative you need to be boring. You are more creative working in a mundane routine than from exciting, socially-active days.

Neil Gaiman’s advice for writers is, “Get bored.”

[Ideas] come from daydreaming, from drifting, that moment when you’re just sitting there… The trouble with these days is that it’s really hard to get bored. I have 2.4 million people on Twitter who will entertain me at any moment…it’s really hard to get bored. I’m much better at putting my phone away, going for boring walks, actually trying to find the space to get bored in. That’s what I’ve started saying to people who say ‘I want to be a writer,” I say ‘great, get bored.’

Even Einstein was in favor of idleness: “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.”

So if isolation is getting to your nerves, find something creative to do. You can – start a veggie patch, learn to draw, write a book, make a collage, do some embroidery.

I do not know about others, but I am taking more ideas to completion. I am sticking with them longer, exploring them more, and finishing more articles and sketches than before. Not being able to go out means I can plan my days better and get more work done.

This week I wrote two articles, Seven Tips To Write With Style and Kindness Starts At Home.

I was really heartened by the fact that Seven Tips To Write With Style was picked up by the Medium curators (team of people at Medium who look for good articles and recommend them to subscribers). This is my second article in three months that got curated, which means the article will go to a wider audience.

In my cartoon drawing course, I have commenced drawing cartoons for Ms. Jolly’s Rule Book For Writers that will be published at the end of the course. Those of you who don’t know, Ms. Jolly is the cartoon character I have created who is more or less my alter ego.

That’s it from me this week.

Take care.

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