How to Feed your Creative Spirit at Home 🎨
It’s OK to not be OK right now. With all of the crazy going on, each of us is working hard enough all the time just to adjust to this brave new world.
I believe that creativity flourishes under constraints. I’m inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark – she wisely points out that darkness is generative, and that it is in this darkness that the best new ideas are formed. What new ideas will be created in this crisis? Piercingly beautiful works of art? Your next great signature dish that you’ll cook for family and friends for years to come? New ways of looking at the world that will help us embrace the here and now?
What works of creative genius will this crisis birth into the world?
We wanted to share a list of ways you can feed your creative spirit while sheltering at home. Our hope is that it’ll inspire you to take care of yourself – and to create something of your very own, whether it’s just for you or it’s something you share with the world.
Creative Projects: It’s Time to Start Making
1. Play in a totally new medium. “I’m a content writer professionally and also working on my second manuscript—or I’m supposed to be. Lately I’ve just been tapped out creatively, so I’ve started playing around on Procreate for my iPad. It’s been so much fun to just play and not worry about technical skill or anything like that. Plus, because it’s digital it isn’t making a mess in my apartment that is already feeling the effects of isolation!” – Grace M.
2. Take up a new hobby. “I got stuck at home for a few months when I broke my leg in 2018 (third floor walk up…) and I took up knitting. I highly recommend learning and exploring a new hobby to make the time fly by!” – Rachel J.
3. Make your own creative challenge 💪. “10 years ago, I felt creatively drained. I was creating a very grim documentary and just felt stalled in doing anything. So I created a month-long challenge in an artistic medium that was not related to my job to spur my imagination. I challenged myself to take a new and different self-portrait every day. I had to find a new location, mood and visual story. At the end of the month, I not only had a fun project that I was proud to have completed, but it also re-energized me.” – Tamara L., CMO of A. Lynn Designs
4. Create a bullet journal 📗. “It’s a great outlet for doodling and drawing and getting your mind off what is happening now!” – Marissa S. Michelle S. takes it one step further: “Journal, or you know, write that novel you keep thinking of.” Challenge accepted!
“I created a month-long challenge in an artistic medium that was not related to my job to spur my imagination.”Tamara L.
5. Get your craft on 🎨. “This free time is a hobbyist dream!” says Alex T. Some specific crafting suggestions:
- “Martha Stewart has unending lists of crafts, recipes, house decorating tips, cleaning tips, flower and plant care guides.” – Michelle S.
- “Make a pom pom wreath – an easy crafting project with great results. You could try so many different color combinations. I went with white and two shades of grey.” – Katelan B.
- “Paper crafts! I’ve been making paper flowers, which are so pretty and fun. I’ve also been making candles, lotions, and soaps and picked up my sewing, crocheting and embroidery crafts.” – Alex T.
6. Try your hand at calligraphy ✍️. “If you’ve ever wanted to learn calligraphy (and really who hasn’t?), The Happy Ever Crafter is a must to check out. Becca offers free tutorial worksheets and has a ton of informative YouTube videos.” – Lauren C.
7. Coloring books aren’t just for kids. Maybe it’s the sense of order and control, but there’s something just so soothing about coloring between the lines. My current favorite printable is this set of coloring pages of famous women – from Rosa Parks to RBG.
8. Start an herb garden 🌿. Nurturing something from scratch is incredibly satisfying, and you have the benefit of fresh herbs for your cooking adventures. Plus, it saves you a trip to the grocery store.
Wellness 🙌: Self Care for Strength
1. Think of this time as a gift to yourself – you can finally check all of those to-dos off your list.
- Natalie F., my personal trainer, suggests: “Make a list of things you have been wanting or meaning to do – anything from cleaning out your closet, to calling your friends or family members, reading a book or organizing the kitchen shelves.
- Artist Michelle S. concurs: “This a great time to deep clean – Real Simple has some great suggestions for easy, natural cleaning guides. Clean out those closets – and donate, donate, donate. After that, update your loungewear wardrobe online. Home Manicures are sometimes fun to do too.”
2. Reach out to loved ones. “Call people you want to connect with but have not had the time, and tell them you love them!” – Michelle S.
3. Exercise at home without any special equipment. My trainer Natalie has been sharing her amazing workouts at @nataliefriedman._ – like this bodyweight workout that only requires a towel. I love her overall approach to healthy living – it’s not about denying yourself the things that bring you joy, but rather, about finding a balance (I tell her about the pie & cookies 🍪 I eat). Four tips from Natalie:
- Set aside 30 minutes each day for a workout.
- Finding new ways to move our bodies – such as yoga and dance – will help us cope with the situation, release endorphins, and keep our sanity.
If you live in a building, take the stairs up and down so you can move more.
- Stay hydrated. Every time you get up to check the fridge or get a snack, drink a full glass of water.
- Pamper yourself! I’m taking this time to deep condition my hair, do face masks and give my body some needed TLC.
4. If you can’t go to the gym just STRETCH! “Stretching is so overlooked and you can find easy yoga routines on YouTube. Plus many studios are using Instagram Live to keep people engaged while they’re closed.” – Alex T.
5. Move your body and dance! “Go for walks, try to get some fresh air and sunlight. We created a small area to do daily workouts as our gym closed recently. There are dance videos on Youtube if you have to move, but don’t have equipment.” – Michelle S.
6. Get creative to overcome stress and anxiety. Anna K. produced Chasing the Present, a super-timely documentary that looks at methods to overcome stress, anxiety and depression through alternative methods. Screenings of the film will be rolling out over the next few months, and it’ll be fully released in September 2020.
“I like to list 3 things I am grateful for. This helps re-focus my thoughts to view life through the lens of what is working, possibility and love – which inspires creativity.”Anna K.
7. Remind yourself to Chill. “I work for a 100% remote company, and I love the Chill app. It sends me reminders throughout my day to unwind, stretch, breathe, and focus.” – Danielle A.
8. Use this time to practice meditation. “It’s impossible for me to be creative without clearing my mind of clutter. Meditate before moving forward – and start with the Headspace app.” – Alissa S.
9. Re-focus yourself by mixing meditation and journaling. “I recommend meditating for 20 minutes then journaling for 20 minutes for creativity to flow and calm the brain. When journaling, I like to list 3 things I am grateful for. This helps re-focus my thoughts to view life through the lens of what is working, possibility and love – which inspires creativity. I meditate using guided meditations from Insight Timer, 10% Happier and Headspace.” – Anna K. of Chasing the Present
10. Dance party in your living room 🎉? Turn on Spotify, crank up the music, and dance. Everything looks better when you get your body moving.
11. Do things that don’t involve technology. “Play some board games, get curious about the things you want to do post quarantine, and journal about your experience.” – Natalie F.
Culture 🖼️: Surround Yourself with Beauty
1. #isolationcreation: creativity in the time of quarantine. A really cool community on Instagram created by @annstreetstudio is creating and sharing work every day with the hashtag #isolationcreation. It’s a great place to get inspiration for your own creative projects or share your own! – Holiday E.
2. Need an online culture fix? Melinda W. of The Productive Hangover rounded up a great list of online performances and exhibitions from institutions like the Met Museum, MOMA, and the Metropolitan Opera that will lift your creative spirit.
3. Discover private art collections. Peer-to-peer marketplace for art collectors Origenart.com just launched – check out the exhibition on abstract paintings that Melinda W. of The Productive Hangover curated. She also recommends feeding your creative spirit at Collecteurs: “the collective museum of private collections.”
4. Learn about blockchain art. Melinda W. of The Productive Hangover curated a virtual exhibition on blockchain art and geometric abstraction, and she recommends checking out some incredible works of digital art over at SuperRare.
Things to Watch & Listen To 📺
2. Start your day with newsletters that feed you 📧. My shortlist includes NextDraft (news with a sense of humor), Austin Kleon (things worth sharing, perfect for creatives), Girls Night In (self care FTW), and TheWhat (content & community for curious souls).
3. Awaken yourself with jazz 🎵. What’s special about jazz is the complexity and layering of sound, how the musicians riff off of one another to create something of beauty that’s more than the sum of its parts. Consider it a metaphor for your creative life – and a call to come together with others in a time when we’re forced to be apart.
4. Need film inspiration 🎥? Instead of limiting yourself to modern films, why not go back and watch the classics? I love making my way down a list – like The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 100 Movies of All Time or Rotten Tomatoes’ 200 Essential Movies to Watch Now.
5. Listen to whole albums, from start to finish 💿. You get to hear the music the way the artist intended, with all of the transitions and fades. It’s a wholly different way to experience the music – and you might find some new tracks to love!
6. The Met Opera’s Live in HD series: “They’re releasing a different performance per day for free streaming on their site; I watched Il Trovatore for the first time today and found it very engaging and lovely.” – Cynthia V. from Maison Miru
7. “As we move into this new way of working and learning, we found a great link to share with children or the young at heart! Mo Willems, a much-loved children’s author, is going live everyday (1pm EST) in an effort to share creativity and artistic expression. A fun way to come together and be creative!” – Sarah
8. Katelan B. recommends watching Fleabag – and I totally second her recommendation. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s quirky, dark comedy is just what I want to be watching in this moment – it’s escapism that’s smart and strangely heartwarming at the same time.
9. Find new music from old favorites 🎵. “Check if any of your old favorite artists have new music that you don’t know about – that can be a fun discovery!” – Kat D.
10. “Some Good News” by John Krasinski. If you’re not already a fan of John Krasinski (like me), you will be after this. He recently launched a YouTube news channel called “Some Good News,” which you guessed it – focuses only on stories about humanity doing good. There’s no way NOT to feel a bit uplifted after watching an episode! – Connie W. of Moderne Press
Podcasts 🎙️: Not Just for Commuting
Long live the podcast 🎧! As Brooke J. says, they’re great to listen to while cooking or doing a cleaning project. Here’s a shortlist of community favorites:
- On Being by Krista Tippett – a podcast that asks the big questions: What does it mean to be human, how do we want to live, and who will we be to each other? A few of my favorite conversations – Brene Brown on belonging to one another, Yo Yo Ma on the space between the notes, and Alain de Botton on love and relationships.
- “My three favorites: You Must Remember This (forgotten Hollywood history), 99% Invisible (untold stories of architecture & design), and Bowery Boys (NYC history).” -Sara Z.
- “I am going to say my own: The Grief Coach (stories about life & death), but also U Up? (modern dating), Girls Gotta Eat (more dating), Slow Burn (the biggest stories of the 20th century), Science Vs (debunking myths with science), People Fixing the World (innovative solutions to the world’s problems), Second Life (brilliant women who’ve made career changes), and Call Your Girlfriend (for long distance best friends!).” – Brooke J.
- Michelle S. has another great list: “The Joe Rogan Experience (comedy), This American Life (yay Ira Glass!), NPR (stay informed), Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend (for fun), Bill Simmons (informative), The Art of Manliness (for the guys), Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations (Because Oprah!)”
- “Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Some of my favorite episodes are from Yo-Yo Ma, Solange, and TokiMonsta!” – Anna S.
- “Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert, which celebrates the messiness in being human.” – Katelan B.
- “My favorite podcast right now is #Officeladies. It’s got me rewatching the Office from the beginning and I love the stories and tidbits about the show. Light and entertaining background noise.” – Ashley M.
- “For your listening pleasure I recommend the Disgraceland podcast. It’s part true-crime, part music-history, and part storytelling, and the man who runs it, Jake Brennan, has a voice like velvet. He did an excellent two-part series about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana that was especially good.” -Hillary E.
- “Shannon of The Simply Luxurious Life covers fashion, travel, current culture, and living the good life within your means, and she began doing podcasts on Mondays covering similar topics.” – Mary F.
- How I Built This for the stories behind some of the world’s most interesting companies, direct from the people who built them.
Books to Feed Your Soul 📚
1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. “I am a creative business owner so I read business/creativity books constantly and my number one for inspiring creativity is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It really opened my eyes to how to cultivate creativity and remove any fear involved. So good!” – Rachel H. of Cove Creative
2. The Best of Joan Didion: “To deal with the recent increase in my free (and mostly alone) time, I have decided I want to reread Joan Didion’s finest – Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album, and The Year of Magical Thinking, and will be inviting my friends to join in to discuss. I’m hoping that reading the work that has always inspired me will help motivate me to begin working more on my own personal essays.” – Samantha B.
3. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. “One thing this book asks you to do is “morning pages” – three pages of free form writing about anything on your mind. Sometimes it’s really hard to know what to write but eventually the thoughts and words just flow. It’s fascinating what all comes out when you set no obligations or plans with what you write. It’s very therapeutic as well.” – Rachel H. of Cove Creative
4. Now’s the time for your “now or never” books. Ever thought about reading Proust? Or David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest? Those books that have been sitting on your shelf for years, staring at you like an unfinished item on your to-do list – now’s the time to crack them open.
Food & Recipes 🍴: Nurture & Comfort Yourself
1. Experiment in the kitchen 🥘. My trainer Natalie F. says to “make it fun and start experimenting in the kitchen if you can. Look up recipes and try new things.” Don’t know where to start?
- “Anything Alison Roman makes because she is a national treasure.” – Sarah Z.
- “Try one of Sylvia’s seasonal, veggie-driven, globally-inspired, whole-food recipes. Or for a little more indulgent vegan cuisine, check out Post Punk Kitchen. I’ve been making Isa’s recipes for years and always go back to them! ” – Lauren C.
- “Stuffed Baked Plantains are so easy – and even yummier for a meal that can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Note – a half pound of ground beef was enough for me to stuff 5 plantains.” – Katelan B.
2. Lean in to comfort food favorites. My good friend Hillary is an amazing chef, and I had to ask her for a few of her favorite comfort food recipes. “Unsurprisingly in times of stress, I tend to take to the kitchen. First there was homemade chicken soup (hurrah for vegetable scraps!) which we’re having tonight with matzah balls and had yesterday in Hainanese chicken rice. I also made a variation on this focaccia.” – Hillary T.
3. Expand your recipe repertoire. “I’ve been cooking a new recipe for dinner each night! I map out all of our ingredients in a spreadsheet (I’m a COO consultant, can’t help it 😉) and do a recipe search based on the ingredients that should be used next, in terms of freshness/expiration. I try to use as many fancy kitchen tools and techniques as possible, with the extra time at home. It’s been really fun for my fiancée and I. We also set the table with candles and nice flatware and sit down for a nice conversation.” – Steph B. of Steph Bagley Consulting
4. Get sucked in to the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen. I find their how-to videos mesmerizing – and totally spent 20 minutes learning how to cook eggs every which way 🍳. Quarantine #goals?
5. Ever wanted to learn how to bake? Bon Appetit has also a 10 week, 10 recipe program so you can level up your baking skills.
This list wouldn’t be possible without your love, support, and genius ideas. (Many of the suggestions on this list come from fellow creative business owners, who could use your support now more than ever.)
Be well, stay safe, and take this opportunity to feed your creative spirit.
With ❤️ from NYC,