Spaces where creativity flourishes are often in flux and made with purpose and intention, but the source of creativity itself is not something that is easily defined or understood. We are all creative on the scale of small-c to big-C creativity. Little-c, we are talking about everyday problem-solving items. Big-C on the other hand is more of a rarity where someone’s creativity manifests in a way that ranges from having a visceral effect on people, all the way up to having a complete paradigm shift for mankind or even our planet.
How and why one person can create spectacular concepts, innovations or art while others struggle to find the tap for their creative juices, despite in many cases, having an identical or similar education and upbringing, is a question for the ages. Even children raised in the same home, under the same conditions can have significantly different creative abilities or pursuits where these abilities shine.
Nurture the Creative Juices
All of us have creative potential waiting to be unlocked. It may be in different areas, or it may be in different ways that it decides to manifest, but we all have some form of creative juices running through us. It’s just a matter of finding the tap and then training it like a muscle.
The likes of the best artists, authors, computer programmers, business founders, and architects all know their most valuable offerings live in a place called “flow”. This is where creativity lives and it’s found by unrestrictively being connected to the moment. A place where the work comes or “flows” to the mind rather than being pushed out by using effort.
Creating a space that allows very little stress and emotional constriction while also providing the set and setting for imaginative freedom, and inspired thought process will often be a deeply personal process that intersects with a professional process. It’s a combination of elements that stimulate and emulate freedom, passion and drive to produce outcomes that are quite incredible, sometimes even revolutionary.
Flow doesn’t always have to be creative either. Many creatives use all types of flow as a way of kind of kickstarting the creative flow process through things like going for a surf, jogging, rock climbing or simply sitting in nature. The trick here is that they are nurturing their creativity in both the insight and incubation phases. Insight flow is mind-wandering, with ideas popping up out of the depths of consciousness seemingly from nowhere. The idea of a new possibility! A what if and that truly unique feeling that comes with it. This then triggers the need for a space to allow for incubation – the sequence of phases that make up the more tangible creative process from the planning to the execution.
Space-making for Creativity
Let the feeling you want your space to embody flow through you and use it as the driving force behind the way you plan your workspace. Maybe it’s a communal environment that’s not just for you. You want to see your employees or coworkers thrive in an environment where their creativity shines. This is for the benefit of the organisation, as a greater level of creativity in a team setting will often spur on ideas on a viral level that will help take an organisation to greater heights.
It’s important to remember that space isn’t always physical. If you’re agitated or stressed, you could describe the feeling that comes with it as heavy and this is how outside factors can affect emotional space; it constricts your inner space and your creativity. This is why employing as many outside factors in the space as you can see, hear, touch and smell to help regulate your emotional space is so important in allowing you to feel the space around you physically and drive you into the moment. Into flow!
For many, this whole workspace thing seems like something that is already accomplished. You have a desk in your space and a few personal totems on it, a comfy chair etc. If you’re WFH, maybe you have your desk inside your spare room or in another part of the house. This all seems like a mission accomplished.
However, one thing you need to understand is that the space you stake out needs to be one that you can resonate with more deeply. A place to develop and nurture rituals, your creative tactics and tricks to achieve more. To be in flow more. To open your mind to the productive configurations of the space and how you can maximise it to work harder for you. It’s not just a room or some walls, it’s your partner in creative crime.
Be Organised but be open to mess
Permit yourself to expand the way you organise things and embrace fluidity in your workflow. That might look like spreading out on the floor with a roll of butcher’s paper that turns into a flowchart or maybe it’s that part of your workflow that just means your organisational system gets loose. If it’s in the name of flow – loosen it up! You need to be open and accepting of how you “really” use a space for outcomes, not just the untouched, polished state we want our workspaces to be in when we start.
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a kind of romanticism that’s developed surrounding the often dislocated and chaotic work quarters of many artists and creatives. While it’s a case of whatever works for you, the reality is that incorporating a baseline of cleanliness and organisation that you can default back to on a regular basis is healthy. Knowing where things are can help with flow. When you’re on a roll something as simple as not being able to find an item can turn you from a supreme being of creativity on a mission from the creativity gods into a full-blown cranky scatterbrain pretty quickly.
Plumbing for the creative juice tap
Once you’ve felt out what you need there are tangible items to consider.
Think back to the feeling you want your space to embody. Is it dynamic and energised? Grounded and calm? Whatever it is, this is where your personal preferences will come into play. Colour schemes, sunlight, quotes, natural materials, lighting, plants.
The list goes on and on and whatever it is be intentional about it but leave room for experimentation. Creative spaces should always be in flux and getting into the rut of permanence is a hamper to allowing creativity to develop.
Noise is such a huge part of life, it’s an almost constant stimulus that goes mostly unnoticed. Be intentional with your space soundtrack. That might mean your own noise to block out unwanted noise, experimenting with types of music or collections of sounds you find on all of the platforms that are available to us now or simply using sweet silence as your partner.
Changes to what you listen to can have deep effects on our patterns, where our minds take us, our clarity and the way we create.
Think comfort and how things like getting into a bed made with clean sheets feel. The clothes you wear and the items you are in contact with every day can create a sense of ease, security and comfort. Be purposeful with the items you are in contact with when you use them and consider if they are causing you comfort or discomfort.
It’s too easy to become complacent with such seemingly unimportant things. Become aware and make the right changes, you’re creativity will thank you.
Smells can almost transport us in time. They are such a powerful way to instantly connect with moments, memories and senses of safety and well-being. They are an often overlooked tool in the toolbelt for transporting us to a place where we are better equipped to make creative magic happen.
Again, experiment! It might be a big bushel of Jasmine you place thoughtfully in the spring. Some incense that takes you back to that trip to India and all the culture and colours. The beautiful part is we all have our own associations and places smell can take us to. Let’s use them!