Have you found your own creative space?
A place where you can think, explore creative ideas and find inspiration. Identifying your creative space is like having a clever little hack in your creative toolkit, that you can come back to time and time again.
Why does it matter?
Human beings are innately creative. I don't mean we're all painters or musicians (I'm certainly not!) but we're wired to make stuff in our own ways, whether that's physically crafting stuff, creating order out of chaos (a colour-coded spreadsheet is a thing of beauty worth celebrating and I won't hear otherwise!) or coming up with ideas to fix problems.
And I don't know about you, but I feel like it does me a lot of good to delve into creativity. Some people cook to calm down, while others feel a deep sense of satisfaction after redesigning their garden to incorporate bright colours.
The thing about identifying your creative space though, is that it's not the same for everyone. Ever sat in an office and wondered why your colleague has a million ideas for this project and you can't seem to focus enough to think of anything? It might be that you thrive in different settings.
So how do you find the right place to spark your imagination? I'm going to share a few ideas here to help you discover your own creative haven, and then I'm going to suggest how you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
1. Start by thinking about where you go to feel calm
Where's your go-to spot when you need to find a sense of peace? It's extremely hard for humans to be creative when we're stressed. The cortisol and adrenaline in your body keep you focused on urgent tasks (really useful if you're in a survival situation, not so good for generating new story ideas). Calming down is key.
Personally, I feel content and creative in the woods. This is where I go to find a sense of perspective after a period of stress. The quiet helps me think and unpack ideas.
Think about places that have made you feel peaceful: beside the sea, perhaps, or sitting in the quiet of your back garden.
2. What kind of creative are you?
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you get your best ideas somewhere busy, like people-watching from a coffee shop? Do you need someone else to bounce ideas off? Or maybe you work better in silence, without distractions.
We're not all wired the same, and the more you know about how you think, the easier it will be to find the right environment where you can work.
3. What parts of your everyday life spark ideas?
Agatha Christie spoke of finding inspiration for her novels while shopping or washing the dishes. Often, when we let our minds wander while we're busy with something else, that's when our brains surprise us with new ideas. Have you had a genius thought pop into your head while you were drifting off to sleep, or out walking the dog?
Once you've answered these three questions, you should be starting to build up a picture of the kind of environment that sparks your creativity.
So what's next? Well, as I mentioned, once you begin to identify your creative space, you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
How can you incorporate the environment that sparks your imagination into your life? Maybe you're lucky and your answer to Question One is a place right on your doorstep, where you can visit and be inspired. Maybe the busy coffee shop you identified in Question Two is the perfect place to take a sketchbook and jot down ideas.
But if that's not practical, all's not lost! I work best when it's quiet, which is almost never a realistic possibility at home. That's why Question Three is designed to get you thinking more about your everyday life, building creativity into your existing routines.
Because you can build your own creative space at home, or wherever you are, by incorporating elements from the questions above. A key to this is to think about involving as many of your five senses as possible.
What sights inspire you? Take pictures to stick on your wall.
Need the background white noise of a public location, but can't achieve that in a pandemic? Play a track like this one to imitate that atmosphere wherever you are.
Collect natural objects while you're out walking (I'm not talking about stealing flowers from someone's garden!) and bring them to your desk.
Take breaks and let your mind wander. Leave your phone behind when you go about your errands, and you might be surprised how much mulling and problem-solving your brain can do in that time, ready for when you return to work on your project.
Congratulations, you are consciously identifying and building your own creative space! I hope this process helps you find fresh new ideas and untangle problems.
Tell me all about where you like to think and make things!