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World Mag > World Magazine Fall 2021 Edition- Rebirth, Reinvent, Reroute > Cultivating Creativity!!

Cultivating Creativity!!

During the UK's first lockdown in the summer of 2020, I wrote an entire novel in two months!
Omotoyosi Ariyo
Omotoyosi Ariyo

During the UK’s first lockdown in the summer of 2020, I wrote an entire novel in two months

I had an exhausting year of medical school ahead of me, and an exhausting year of IB behind me. After having had my fill of podcasts and long naps, I needed something to do. Something that would keep me occupied in the long-term, and something vastly different from my university course. Thus, I began writing a fantasy novel.

I remember sitting curled up on the living room couch, blocking out the world with lo-fi hip-hop as my mind ran even faster than my fingers, tapping frantically against my computer keys. I’d wake up during nights, eyes squinting from the glare of my iPhone screen, scrambling to jot down ideas that worked their way into my dreams. A whole alternate universe inside my head took shape on that Google Doc, and it thrilled me.

When I typed my last sentence, I felt a sense of accomplishment and excitement. And quickly became motivated to start another novel—the one I’m still working on: a light-hearted, slow-paced, character-driven found-family story. Eighty-thousand words and counting! Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 16:
“Their next stop was in the outskirts of town. A meandering, downtrodden trail led them to the greenest part of Ei’res, circled by thick trees shaped like folding fans fully spread. And at the woods’ centre: a still expanse of water, shallow and oblong, rush and marigold protruding from its perimeter like the fragmented frame of this mirror to the sky. Together, Majeed and Anurak sat at [lake] Indigo’s edge and watched their musings of months long gone take shape."

As it turns out, a creative outlet like writing is exactly what I needed to destress from medical school, and from the pandemic. I took it a step farther and got an iPad to begin digital art, something I’ve always wanted to try, but never did, because I never had the time to do so. Thanks to lockdown, I had nothing but time. I drew fan art, commissions, and even characters from my books, each piece taking about four hours to fully complete. This kept me sane in a series of isolating lockdowns.

In retrospect, my first novel wasn’t very good. My drawings weren’t good either; I started off tracing, and didn’t understand all of Procreate’s functions, or how to use colour. But there was something about being a beginner, so new to the craft, that reassured me. Something about being by myself, stuck within the same four walls, made it feel like this art and this time was for me and me alone. So in a way, lockdown took a lot of pressure off of my back. And with all that time to practice, I can safely say that my drawings and writing have greatly improved. They’re far from perfect, but they don’t need to be. They’re only hobbies, after all; they’re meant to be an alleviator of stress, not a source.

That’s not to say these hobbies have been completely stress-free. I’ve spent weeks bogged down on a transition sentence more times than I can count. I’ve cried tears of frustration, spending hours trying to draw a mouth that just won’t turn out right, or finishing a piece that isn’t as good as my last. But the bottom line is, lockdown has taught me more about myself—the person I’ve spent so much time alone with—and pushed me to do things I didn’t even know I could do. Which is why I plan to nurture these skills long after the pandemic; though I don’t see myself having a career in writing or drawing, there’s no reason to limit myself to one path. Because unless I pursue them, there’s no telling where they’ll lead.

Omotoyosi graduated from AISB in 2020 and is now studying medicine at the University of Manchester. Throughout her high school career, she wrote consistently for AISB’s student newspaper, The Bite — garnering international praise for her work on racial equality.


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