24 Great Minds on Being Creative in the Time of Quarantine

After trekking through Gotham, it’s back to her hotel, where she writes—she’s working on a podcast script and a book proposal—until darkness falls. She’s also getting into movies—like, watching them. “In my pre-quarantine life, I would watch maybe, like, TV here and there, but I would never really fully commit to an entire movie because I can’t really sit still for that long,” she says. “So now I can watch, like, four movies back-to-back, and I’m totally loving that.” Rather than curate some amateur film-fest of obscure whatevers (you poseurs!), she’s taking advantage of the glorious randomness of hotel cable programming: It’s “kind of like Russian roulette,” catching half of Charlie’s Angels today followed by most of Addams Family Values, and then the other half of Charlie’s Angels tomorrow. “It’s all kind of one big blur,” she says, that goes on until 7:30 or 8 in the morning, at which point she goes to sleep, wakes up around 3 p.m., and catches up with friends until it’s cardio time once more.

One night, “I saw a bunch of guys trying to break into an ATM,” she says. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is really fucking anarchy. No one gives a fuck.’ So every time I go out, I bring my mace with me.”

Fox has an impulse to search for a silver lining, and a sense, like a mystic hustler, that she must work toward bigger and better things. She is using her renowned powers of manifestation, previously applied to beat out hundreds of actors for the Gems role that was practically written for her, “to send my love and send help in some way to people that are sick,” and to keep herself productive. “I’m always a big-picture kind of gal,” she says. “I always think in the long term, and I like to see things through from beginning to end in my head.” Sounds like a movie—just where she belongs. —Rachel Tashjian


Ottessa Moshfegh

The acclaimed author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation offers a dispatch from her quarantine in Pasadena, California, where she’s embracing a period of creative productivity she calls “the light side of the darkness.”

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

When your worst fears are realized, it’s tempting to think you have invented them, like this is all a bad dream, and if you can just change your mind, then reality will change along with it. As a writer, isolation and solipsism are kind of unavoidable. When I am absorbed in writing a novel, reality starts twisting to reflect and inform everything I’ve been thinking about in my work. That’s normal.

That’s part of the miracle of creation, one could say, or it’s the mind organizing the details of life into a narrative that logically orients the writer back to her own story. A trap of perception, maybe. In some ways, this quarantine is the ideal creative environment. Writing takes patience and listening, allowing oneself to linger on a word or image or gesture and watch it develop into drama through a language of its own. It also takes a lot of time. I haven’t had time to write fiction in a year and a half. I’m trying to see this period as a blessing in that way. The light side of the darkness.

Read Ottessa Moshfegh’s full essay here

Matty Healy in his studio outside London, photographed by Pari Dukovic in New York.

Matty Healy

Holed up in a recording studio outside London with his girlfriend and a few musicians, the frontman of the 1975 caught up with GQ via FaceTime, spliff in hand, ready to riff on a big question: How do you make art out of a nightmare?

I’ve been making things every day, or trying to. We’ll eat lunch, start smoking weed, and start fucking around. We’ll do a little Hail Mary of, like: come up with three ideas. Because I still want to get records out. This is such an awful circumstance, but Abstract Expressionism or the Zero movement or the Gutai movement only happen when young people feel like “What’s the fucking point?” And then they make something new. The only thing I have the ability to do is make positive things. That’s what I’m trying to put my energy into.