Posted by Marjolein Smit

How do we snap out of this "whiff of death" stage? That seems to be where we are right now, as the protagonists in our own movies. Everything was “fun and games” until a huge plot twist came out of nowhere. The “bad guys” showed up, potentially lethal, impartial, invisible and moving fast around the globe, hitting us with the “whiff of death”. But all a protagonist needs is a fresh idea to act as a catalyst and propel them to a successful ending. So let’s go find it.

The Hidden Gift

Luna Lovegood explains to Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that they can see the thestrals because they have seen death. For those of you who have not had a “whiff of death” before, there is a gift that comes along with it. Like Harry and Luna you now see things differently too. You see that life is precious, fragile and can be short. With this particular "whiff" you also value the freedom you used to have more and the ease with which you got to live your life. Questions might start to pop up inside you like: Was I truly following my heart? Was I really living my best life? So why not take this quarantine time that the “bad guys” have put upon you and use it for contemplation? Let me kick it off by asking you this. If Hagrid kicked down your door tomorrow and gave you the choice to stay a muggle or become the you, the wizard you were always meant to be, what would you choose?


How to Stay Creative in Self Quarantine


Getting it Together

You chose option two right? I knew it. Cool, welcome to Hogwarts. So wizards, now that you have chosen and sorted yourself into the house where you belong, other questions might pop up during your contemplation. Like, was I practicing my “swish and flick” moves hard enough? Did I really learn all the spells and grasp how to fly or was I too busy drinking “butter beers” and watching Netflix? Was my goal concrete enough and my plan of action on how to reach it sufficient? If your answers aren't convincing you then isn’t this a great moment to go find them and get things clear for yourself? Get your “divinations” crystal ball out and gaze into it. Drink some tea and get to tea leaf reading so that when you hear “Avada Kedavra” many, many, many years from now, you can think who cares? “Mischief managed”.

Think Outside Your "Box"

Like Hermione Granger's hand, yours might want to shoot up now while your mouth is eager to spit out: “Um, I have all of those answers and a plan but I am stuck at home feeling like Harry who hasn’t got a pass to go into "Hogsmead”! Well, being stuck can be a powerful potion to boost creativity levels. Just surf the net and look at everything that is being conjured up by folks all around the globe.

Restaurants are selling dinner coupons so their income remains even though they are closed. Yoga lessons are given through Skype. High schoolers earn a buck by getting groceries or walking dogs for the elderly and the sick. A strip club rebrands itself and turns into a sexy food delivery service. Stars give free online concerts. Museums offer free virtual tours. Christmas lights are put back up to be a light in these weird times. People organize a “Clap for all the healthcare workers from your balconies” moment. Quarantine birthdays become drive-by parades where presents are thrown onto the front lawn out of decorated, honking cars. The staff of a closed aquarium entertain us by filming their penguins roaming around free, in their closed exhibits, to look at the animals. Stage 32 sets up online screenings after the SXSW cancelation.


How to Stay Creative in Self Quarantine


But how can you practice indoor magic you ask? Here is a list:

  • Finish all the projects you did not have time for. Kind of a "duh" but still.
  • Get to work on your social media, make connections, post stuff, get seen.
  • Write that book.
  • Dip your toes into a different Stage 32 lounge. It is easy to stay in the lounge that is closest to your “house”, but take a chance and test out a new "house"
  • Create your website.
  • Create a weekly or daily distraction for people during “home” time. Make anything that can entertain them and you might gain a following plus possibly grab the attention of someone who can help you along in your career. You can make Tik Tok videos, a Podcast, YouTube videos you name it. Janneke, a girl from Holland, started posting a “Song for Holland” vlog every day, to entertain and comfort people. She gave each song a different theme and dedication. People liked and shared the vlogs which helped her YouTube and Facebook page (Up with Janneke) to gain following. Her heartfelt creative vlogs not only tugged on people's heartstrings but also grabbed the attention of the media. Within ten days she was giving interviews and appearing on national television.
  • Write a blog.
  • Arrange an online table read
  • Have an online video party with fellow professionals.
  • Create a post in one of Stage 32's many lounges.
  • Write your bio.
  • Take a profile picture and upload it, if you haven’t yet. Why? Stage 32: “Profiles without a headshot will have limited access to the site, will not be featured in certain sections ("People Near You", for example), and will rank lower in search results. Also, many Stage 32 members are reluctant to accept a network request or communicate with those who do not post a headshot. Simply put, adding a profile picture will allow you to experience everything Stage 32 has to offer. Put a face to the name!”
  • Interview someone for your blog. It is a great way to learn things, make connections and help others.
  • Start a WhatsApp or Messenger group with people from your “house” to stay connected, exchange ideas and keep those creative juices flowing.
  • Invite someone, who is working on something you’re interested in, to have a virtual coffee or lunch with you. These are different times. People are at home, possibly bored and might think you know what, why not?
  • Join a filmmakers collaboration website.
  • Hang a birdfeeder up near your window. Wait, what? Um, carrying on...
  • Have an online happy hour to stay in contact with people from "your house" and to make new connections. (Please don’t drink and skateboard down your hall)
  • Put a pitch online.
  • Pitch through Stage 32.
  • Enter contests.
  • Join a group project in one of Stage 32's lounges like Laurie Ashbourne’s content challenge for April: "Let's write a horror script together".
  • Another fun site for collaborating on projects is Joseph Gordon-Levitt's HitRecord.
  • Create your own group project. Screenwriters can, for instance, co-write a screenplay by connecting in Celtx, Final Draft or Google Docs.
  • Get creative on your balcony in your garden, hallway or car. Play music you have made, put a sign up with your poem on it, display your voice by serenading your neighbors, do your stand-up bit through a bullhorn, project your movie onto a wall for the neighbors to watch. Just make sure to share it online. You can't tell me that you have not seen any online quarantine creativity yet. How about the "Free Hugs" guy’s latest “Hug Life” videos, the family dance off videos or the “This is how a proper queen goes to the fridge for a snack during quarantine” video? It just goes to show that a bit of imagination can go a long way.


How to Stay Creative in Self Quarantine


Making Money from Home

Maybe you are thinking of yelling “Obliviate” at your screen right now because you are forced to stay at home without an income. Well besides doing the regular things, like selling your stuff on eBay and all that jazz, you can utilize you particular sets of skills. They are your “Room of requirement" and there are still ways to earn your "Pumpkin Pasties” with them from home. Here's a list of how to do that:

  • Create poems, haikus, art, personal movie posters, illustrations, costumes, logo designs, quarantine cards, quirky quotes and sell them through Etsy.
  • Hire yourself out to make a trailer, acting reel, website, a summary, a pitch, music, a song, treatment or animations.
  • Be a freelance writer through a site like Upwork.
  • Work as an online editor.
  • Look for a job as an online Social Media Manager. If you can, apply to a site that is in your field or as near to it as can be. This way you earn some bucks while you “get the latest”.
  • Sell your pictures, audio or videos to stock art websites. You’ll earn royalties when your files are downloaded by paying clients.
  • Become a “sidekick” virtual assistant. As a virtual assistant you can be in charge of managing social media, events, calendars, appointments, emails, bookings for hotels or restaurants or performing digital marketing tasks. If you can get hired by someone in your field well... you know.
  • Teach something through Skype. Give private acting lessons, pitch lessons, guitar lessons, writing classes etc.
  • Create an online on-demand webinar. Record a presentation and keep your schedule free to do other things.
  • Do someone’s editing.
  • Self publish an ebook. Do you have an idea for a book but you are not a writer? No problem, just look for someone to collaborate with and split the earnings.
  • Become a content writer for a site like Crowdsource.
  • Do someone's Photoshopping.
  • Give a live poetry, musical, stand-up or other kind of performance online. You can use your Paypal account to collect tips.
  • Offer script coverage.
  • Offer logline help.
  • Become a copywriter
  • Come up with a way to entertain people’s kids online. You could create and vlog children's stories, sock puppet shows, educational bits. Ask a buck per download or for tips. Who knows where it will lead?
  • Do some ghostwriting.
  • Do voice acting.
  • Write fanfiction
  • Go through Stage 32’s job section and look for paying jobs that you can do from home
  • Do you speak and write more than one language? Be a home translator or teach people another language.
  • Use your creative hobbies to earn you some cash. Are you into astrology? Create horoscopes for people. Are you into pottery? Start selling those “one of a kind” mugs. (I’ll buy one!) Do you have a vegetable garden? Then why not sell your vegetables or tomato plant seedlings. Think outside your “box”. You can do this.
  • Post anywhere and everywhere online about your situation, what skills you have and that you want to earn money by being creative. People will try to help you, suggest ideas and share your message to help you reach more people. (I will share whatever you want shared and try to help you anyway I can)


How to Stay Creative in Self Quarantine

The Stage 32 Team & Cast from Our Virtual Table Read & Happy Hour


Get "Social"

In these times when it feels like “Dementors” are about, it is so important to stay connected to your peeps, to your joy. Let's be a light for each other in these dark times. To use Taylor C. Baker's words (Stage 32's awesome new awesome Director of Content & Branding and lover of pies) "Let's help our community get rid of feeling isolated and devoid of motivation amidst this global crisis. Let's put the "social" in #SocialDistancing." Yes! Let's.

Get online, connect, inspire, share, support and help someone to take our minds off things. Remember how all of the wizards raised their lit wands towards the sky, when Dumbledore died, to get rid of the “dark mark”? You creating a post online or connecting with one person can make someone feel better and help to clear away the "home alone" feeling or some of that darkness. These times might feel like you're stuck in some whacky B-movie but I believe it is a time of great hidden opportunities. One of my joys is writing so I decided to write something that might help you a little bit. I was inspired by “Dumbledore’s” words from “The Deathly Hallows”. (That’s how this whole Potteresque post happened) Anyhoo, he said “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it”.

Now get “out there” and shine. You got this.



About Marjolein 

How to Stay Creative in Self Quarantine

Hi, I'm Marjolein (Mar-yo-line) also known as Mack.

I am a screenwriter and blogger for Stage32. Just writing that makes my eight-year-old self go WOOHOO before looking around calmly to see if no one has seen her. I have loved to act, playback, write raps and poems since I was a kid but during the time at my "Hogwarts", The Amsterdam Theatre Academy, I found out that I wanted to earn a living doing things I loved.

Next to living my best life writing, I am currently teaching my new buddy Dobby (a rescue street cat from Cyprus) that this six-foot-one giant is a friend and that it is now his job to stop me from getting square eyes by whining for snacks and walking over my keyboard.

When Dobby lets me write, I make sure to add humor, cockiness and an "underdog winning" to my scripts because those are things I love to see in movies. Another thing I can't help doing is giving my protagonists their "happily ever after" before the fade out.

Quirk: I tend to have favorite words in every language I learn. My favorite American word at the moment is wackadoodle, one I learned from Zack Ward.


Marjolein's other Stage 32 blog posts:

3 Ways Writers Can Get Noticed by Helping others 

Do what Zack Ward Does and Keep Winning at What You Love 



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