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Quarantines & Creative Communities

by Lowell Warren

The severity of the Covid-19 situation seemed to hit us out of nowhere. One day we were told to wash our hands; the next day schools closed, businesses shut down, grocery stores were raided for toilet paper, and we were instructed to quarantine ourselves for an indefinite amount of time. It’s been about two and a half weeks since myself and many others have isolated ourselves in our homes, working remotely and blessed/burdened with an unfathomable amount of free time. Getting to lounge around pantless and watch TV all day for months, while it may sound glamorous, will inevitably lead to boredom and loneliness. As a student of UMaine Farmington, I felt a tremendous loss of community when I was told to pack up and move out, a community of writers and artists where I felt inspired and was pushed to create. But what I’ve discovered two weeks into social distancing is that there are actually plenty of ways to connect with and participate within communities of writers, artists, and creators online, so I thought I’d share a few with you.

Camp NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Writers from all over the world sign up to participate, and for thirty days, amidst school and work and other responsibilities, find time to squeeze out a 50,000 word novel. As someone who has participated in the past, I can say that NaNoWriMo is challenging, thrilling, and in the end incredibly rewarding. It pushes you to write everyday even when you aren’t feeling inspired, and it helps that there is a whole community of writers writing along with you. While the official NaNoWriMo occurs in November, Camp NaNoWriMo occurs in April and July. Camp is same as the original, only instead of writing 50,000 words each writer can choose their own word count goal, and if you’d like, you can be assigned cabin mates (like at summer camp), a group of writers whom you can chat with about writing, about your novels, or about whatever you’d like! Many writers and participants will also have livestreams on facebook, instagram, and youtube where they’ll host live write-a-thons, and if you’re feeling stuck they’ll occasionally toss out writing prompts and ideas. April is right around the corner, and if you’ve always wanted to write but have never had time, the time is now!

Quarantine Art Club

Another great way to engage in a community of creators is to check out one of instagram’s many Quarantine Art Clubs. Everyday artists post prompts and challenges which anyone can create, post, and share. One of my favorite contemporary artists Carson Ellis (@carsonellis) posts prompts like “Make a butterfly,” “Treasure Map,” and “Out your window.” Instagramers, children and adults alike, can post their interpretations of the prompt with the hashtag #QuarantineArtClub.

Other artists like Danielle Krysa (@thejealouscurator), Emily Balsley (@emilybluestar), and Sarah Beth Morgan (@wonderfall) have their own art challenges and encourage people to create and share their work using the hashtags #DrawFromADistance, #30DayArtChallenge, and #QuarantineArtClub. This is a fun way to get your creative juices flowing and make something that you maybe wouldn’t have made otherwise.

Learn a New Recipe

One exciting way to spice up your self-quarantine routine is to experiment with new recipes. Cooking is a great way to express creativity, but if you’re intimidated by the kitchen it can seem challenging to do. Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of cooking videos on YouTube, and with all this extra down time and nothing to lose, I’ve realized now is the perfect time to try out these recipes. Youtube channels like Bon Appetit and Tasty have hilarious and enthusiastic crews that make cooking easy and fun, and produce exciting content like trying to create gourmet Cheetos, working to prepare the world’s best pizza, and teaching a drag queen to cook. And if you have absolutely no experience in the kitchen at all, Binging with Babish puts out a series called Basics with Babish where he teaches you all the cooking basics, from how to prepare basic sauces, how to make bread doughs, and what types of spices you should always keep in your cupboard.

Social distancing doesn’t have to be lonely, and it can actually be a great opportunity to invest some time into a new activity, learning a new skill, discovering a new hobby, or finally writing that novel you’ve had sitting in the back of your mind. Check on your neighbors, take care of yourself, know you’re not alone, and stay healthy!

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