Over the past few months, I’ve been striving to collaborate with other artists and writers from around the world. Creativity is essential and, throughout quarantine, many of us have relied on films, music, and various projects for relaxation, inspiration, structure, and hope. Whatever the reason may be, it’s clear that art evokes positive change.
Zane, New School student and Art Editor at 12th Street Literary Journal, and I have experienced waves of inspiration and roadblocks during this time. We’re bombarded by all of these different ideals relating to how this time should be utilized across social media platforms. Scrolling through our Explore pages on Instagram, and dozens of forgotten tabs opened and closed, there appear to be two options: 1) Use this time to meditate, pause, and practice self-care, or 2) Use this time to write a bestselling novel, compose a masterpiece, and redesign your house. These two extremes leave little room for a middleground to exist making it easy for artist’s to feel like they’re doing too little or being overly ambitious.
After discussing these trends, Zane and I decided to begin interviewing dozens of artists from around the world to better understand how creatives are truly handling this time. From the realities of productivity to uncovering the role artist’s play in society, this five week series is designed to generate a sense of community, allow for collaboration at a distance, and gain perspective on how quarantine is impacting many people’s artistic process.
We hope reading these responses or contributing to this project (see survey at the end of this post) will inspire you to make art and serve as a reminder that we are all going through the same thing (:
Alé (@niki_charitable_art_foundation/): The hard part of being productive in quarantine for me is that I have so many things I want to do in one day and zero time management skills that I switch from one thing to the next without really finishing one thing…
Annie (www.anniefay.com): Depending on the project, I either don’t want to complete it knowing I’ll be left with nothing to do afterwards or I simply don't want to get the materials out to begin with. I am also heavily affected by the weather, when it’s overcast or rainy it’s challenging to be productive.
Faith: Lack of sex, definetly.
Fortino: Worrying about having absolutely nothing to do after you're done.
Francesca (@fresca.bella): The hardest part is managing time and energy. Productivity requires good health practices such as nutrition and sleep hygiene. It also requires commitment and structure. It is really easy to get lazy with meals, stay up at ridiculous hours, and dilly dally all day with so much time and so little immediate obligation. And then there’s the fact that loneliness is a major energy drainer.
Jessica: Oh boy. Definitely lack of motivation to do it, then realizing what is the point when I can’t share what I did with my friends in person.
Josephine: I guess getting up and starting a thing is just the beginning of a project; it's the hardest part. It's really just picking up and starting with a blank page. Once I get over the procrastinating point, it’s pretty fluid.
Juila E.: Either feeling like life is on pause and having no idea what you can even do about it. Or not being able to see my friends.
Julia S. (@plex.city): I had to face myself. There was no more running away. No distractions to take my mind off things. Also, not actually getting a break. I’m lucky to have my day job, but it means I’m still attending work and school everyday. I’m expending too much mental energy to be creative in my free time even though I’m physically in a chair all day. My writing became really stagnant. Also, being an introverted empath makes it way harder. There are so many people sick and dying and there’s not much I can do to help. When it comes to my introversion, being indoors usually excites me, but that’s when I had the choice to. Everyone needs a change eventually to reinvigorate themselves, get some inspo from others. My own bedroom turned into my prison. Doing things like taking a break in the kitchen and changing clothes definitely helped me get out of that funk to a normal state of mind. Once all the summer events got cancelled, I lost a lot of motivation.
Kiva (@kivalukas): The hardest part of being productive in quarantine for me is just trying to pull my head out of the funk and daze that being at home for months induces, and feel motivated enough to start working on something. Simple things seem to require far more effort than ever before, and it’s probably just because I’ve fallen out of the habit of actually putting in effort.
Lexis: Well for me I’ve been working Monday through Friday so it feels good to be working. But before I got my job back, I was babysitting my little sister, who’s a baby, so everyday has been pretty productive.
Lilith: The thing that makes being productive the hardest is that there isn’t an end in sight, so it’s nearly impossible to find any motivation.
Lukas: I think the toughest part about being productive is keeping myself disciplined. To get up in the morning, to keep a proper sleep schedule, getting dressed, and showering, and exercising, it's exhausting. At the beginning of quarantine everybody used the time like a vacation, and went off the rails. They partied, stayed up and all that, but then forgot or “missed” the moment they had to return to a normal schedule. Social media influx and general depression do not add well to those factors either. One compares oneself to others much more and therefore is reminded of their own flaws, more so because we can’t keep busy with jobs and alike.
Patrick (@patrickjohnashcroft): Trying to get over the procrastination hump while being home.
Phoenix (@phoenixisshlumped): Not being around people since a majority of my friends are super creative and we all share ideas and build upon those ideas to collectively make cool things together.
Sasha (https://www.couleurclothing.com/zine): The hardest part of being productive in quarantine for me has been riding the ups and downs of motivation that I go through every week or so.
Taylor W.: Keeping motivation when dealing with the unknown.
Thomas J.: My dick…no, no, no, I’m just going for the cheap laugh. How about, getting off my ass and twisting my balls into getting shit done. How's that for your questionnaire?
Zane (https://www.12thstreetonline.com/): Finding the few moments in the excruciatingly long days, where I’m backed against a wall by the wolves of anxiety and stress. Who then force me into a position of rampant busyness. Basically searching for the moment when YouTube doesn’t satisfy, where I start feeling guilty for using Tumblr, when every brain melting activity feels crushing. Finding myself in those situations is the hardest part about being productive in quarantine, because I know that’s the only torturous point when I can be.
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