“I have done some really good work under the worst circumstances and some pretty awful stuff in a well organized, pristine studio.”
A crucial but often overlooked physical aspect of creating is having a space to work in at home. The space doesn’t have to be large but it needs to be conducive to doing your creative work. By that I mean you need to be able to make a mess and leave it that way while the work is in progress. Your project might be writing poetry or a novel, painting a series of images, or brainstorming the business plan for a new venture – regardless the work needs a safe space to incubate and grow. That means that the kitchen table is out!
The space doesn’t have to be large; in fact there may be an area of your bedroom that you can use, a spare closet that can be converted into a creative space, or an extra room in your apartment or house. You might even consider taking over a space in the basement or garage. Perhaps you could section off part of a larger room using a folding screen or curtain. You get the idea. This is the perfect time for you to problem solve and get creative.
While there will be a variety of different materials, supplies, tools and equipment needed for different creative endeavors there are definitely some common components that make for an effective creative space. They include:
- Flat or angled surfaces – I don’t think I could ever have too many flat surfaces in my working spaces
- Wall space or a freestanding easel
- Good lighting
- A comfortable chair
- Adequate ventilation or access to fresh air
- Storage for materials and supplies
- A bookshelf for resources
In addition to the essentials, I highly recommend that you personalize your creative space so that you are inspired and motivated to go there. By making the space inviting you will be more inclined to go there more often and spend time creating.
Some of the ways that you can personalize your space are to feature:
- A bulletin board or whiteboard featuring pictures of your mentors and images that delight or inspire you
- Inspirational quotes
- Groupings of objects that you love
- Your vision statement, vision board or goals and challenges
- Examples of past creative projects
- A wall calendar to track your projects and progress
- Candles or an aromatherapy burner
- A small sound system so that you can play music that compels you to work
“I think of my studio as a vegetable garden, where things follow their natural course. They grow, they ripen. You have to graft. You have to water.”
I encourage you to start looking around your apartment or home immediately and identify a few potential spaces that you could turn into your creative space. What are your unique creative needs? Perhaps the space could be painted a different color than the surrounding rooms. Identify what steps you could take immediately to convert the area into a creating space. What furniture could you pilfer from other rooms? Make a list of some of the necessary supplies that you could start saving for and purchase to set up an ideal space. Consider naming your creative space. Let the space evolve as you start to do your creative work there.
One of the greatest benefits to creating a special physical space to do your work is that you can leave the work in progress. Suddenly, small bits of time can be used effectively to advance your creative work. Five to fifteen minutes can be used to pen a few lines, add a few strokes of color, build a mind map, create a drawing or schematic, hone a skill or make numerous other small steps. You will of course want to organize larger chunks of time to dedicate to your creative projects, but a great deal of progress can also be made using the slivers of time that appear throughout the days and weeks.
One of the interesting things that I have witnessed countless times over the years is the power that the ritual of setting up a designated creative space has, not only improving productivity, but enhancing happiness, fulfillment and self-esteem. Powerful emotions are created when we acknowledge our creativity, honor our aspirations and show up to do the work. Too often people fail to make this small but significant step towards committing to their creativity, and a “guestroom” takes precedence over a lifelong dream. Honor yourself and organize an exciting creative space, start today and go there everyday!
I’d love to hear about your creative space. What are the essentials for your workspace and how have you personalized it? What are your current creative endeavours and what do they require in terms of space and special equipment? In my next post I’ll share a few pictures of my studio spaces including my encaustic painting studio and some of the strategies that I’ve used for storage and ways to maximize my working areas. In the meantime…I wish you Happy Creating!