As I write this, we’re entering the fifth month of staying mostly at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Like many, I’ve occasionally struggled with mental health during this time, between overall anxieties and the odd experience of every day feeling the same. (Though I also recognize that I’ve been fortunate: My relative privilege—with a job that can be done from anywhere—has kept me economically insulated.)
One small way I’m trying to fight off those monotony blues: I’m leaning into the situation by working to build some new “a-bit-each-day” creative practices. There are a bunch of skills I’ve been wanting to learn or improve, so I’m seizing the opportunity to add them into my life, a tiny bit at a time.
What I’ve been doing:
- improving my motion graphics skills
- practicing hand-lettering
- practicing piano
- getting back to an old type design project I had let sit for a while
There are a couple lessons I’m trying to keep in mind:
- It’s OK to be bad at things. One of my personal failings is that I hate not seeing immediate results when I learn or try something new. But on the days where it feels like I’m running uphill, I try to remember that the point is just to put one foot in front of the other for a while each day, and eventually you’ll get somewhere.
- Even when you’re not outcome-focused, it’s good to have real assignments. Even if I don’t end up showing them to anyone, “real” projects (as opposed to just messing around aimlessly) help motivate me. They provide a framework for deliberate practice and momentum, which helps me see where I’m actually making progress. It feels good to have little accomplishments to build toward, too.
Here’s one of those real assignments: a simple, fun lyric video for my band Reforester’s new single, which was released today. (We recorded it prior to the lockdown.) The animation, produced in After Effects, is fairly rudimentary, because that’s what my current skill level allows. But I think the concept has enough weight—and enough subtle humor—that it supports the vibe of the song and hopefully holds a viewer’s interest. And I learned something doing it, which wouldn’t have happened without a real assignment that met my skills just beyond where they were.
It always feels weird to promote my own work when the world is in a state like its current one. But I’m trying to remember that creativity always has value, even when other things are taking center stage.
I hope you’re doing OK, wherever you are.