Cartoonist in Quarantine: Tips to Surviving the Stay-At-Home Order with Your Sanity In Tact

As a ShoutFyre member, you’re likely an aspiring or professional comic creator, but odds are  you also have a day job that actually pays the bills. Or had, at least, before the COVID-19 pandemic set in. It’s possible you now have an open schedule, having been laid off from your job in food-and-beverage or a now “non-essential” retail or service industry. Or maybe you’ve made a shift from an office or classroom setting to work-from-home in a world of teleconferencing. Or you’re still on the front line, doing important work in medical care, grocery, or restaurant take-out or delivery (and if so, bless you, and stay safe). For those adjusting to a new normal that involves leaving your home as little as possible, some tips to making the adjustment.

Maintain a Schedule

Even if your days are now wide open with no set responsibilities, it’s important to retain some sense of normalcy. Establish a regular daily schedule to keep your mind and body active and healthy. Otherwise, it’s easy for the days to become a listless blur and for depression, anxiety, and unhealthy habits to sink in.

  • While it may be tempting to just sleep the day away, set an alarm, get showered and dressed, and make your bed each day. 
  • Establish a routine, including eating meals around the same time each day. 
  • Make a list of things to do each day. Include time for things you enjoy doing, such as that TV or video game binge, reading your comic book backlog, or drawing or writing your comic project.

Stay Healthy

Suffice it to say, staying healthy is pretty much the name of the game during a viral outbreak. But on top of washing your hands and wearing facial coverings during public interactions to help avoid catching or spreading the disease, it’s important to focus on your mental and physical health as well.

  • Like Rule #1 of Zombieland says, do some cardio. Schedule at least 20 minutes each day for some exercise, and get up and move around at least 5-10 minutes of every hour. 
  • In addition to eating at regular times, plan healthy meals to help avoid that Quarantine Fifteen. 
  • De-stress with some breathing exercises. Enjoy the privacy of your own home to take part in some online yoga without the fear of public embarrassment. 

Stay Connected with Those You Care About

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone, despite the nonstop isolationism. As part of that daily agenda, earmark time with those meaningful to you.

  • Reach out to friends and family. From text messages and Facebook Messenger, to video calls over Skype or Facetime, or just a quick phone call, check in on the people in your life who matter. Not only is it good for your own mental health, but they’ll value the interaction just as much. 
  • As mentioned above, dedicate some time on your comic project. Keep your creativity and the characters borne from that passion alive. 
  • Revisit your influences and inspirations. Dust off the graphic novels or back issues that had an impact on your creative drive. Find podcasts and video interviews with or by your favorite comic creators. Read blogs and articles about the industry and process. (And if I may, you’ll find a lot of this at ShoutFyre. 😉 
Steve Stegelin

Editor, Artist, Letterer, Colorist Steve is the long-running cartoonist at the Charleston, SC alt-weekly Charleston City Paper, where he skewers politicians and criminals (and criminal politicians) alike with editorial cartoons and police blotter illustrations every issue. Steve was best known his indie comic book (and subsequent webcomic)  BOONDOGGLE