Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A room of one's own - Creating your creative space

"As Virginia Woolf famously wrote, 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.' Well, we can't help you with the money part, but if you intend on doing anything creative, it's possible—nay, crucial— to create a room of your own (even if it's just part of a room).

When I was writing my novel, I was lucky enough to have a little closet-like room to set aside as my office space. No matter how chaotic my Brooklyn apartment (and life) got, my writing room could remain an organized, peaceful bastion. I'm superstitious enough to believe that the good vibes in this room made the novel possible.

Whether you're an aspiring novelist or a weekend watercolorist, here are some ways to create a room of your own:

•Choose your space. Maybe it's a studio out in some bucolic garden. Maybe it's a miniscule desk stowed in a bedroom nook. Either way, what's important is that this space feels good to you. Do you love or loathe natural light? Will you be too distracted around a lot of books or the television? Does one part of your house or apartment just feel better to you? If possible, try out a few different spaces. Find the one that works the best, and set up camp.

•Consult the masters. Stop beating yourself up over your writers' block. According to practitioners of feng shui, the placement of your furniture may be what's blocking your creative flow. It's a complex system, but here are the basics: clear energy-blocking clutter, and shift energy with color (red is invigorating, green encourages growth, etc). You might want to look up a feng shui map to determine which area of your home seems most auspicious for creativity.

•Go on border patrol. Expert organizer Molly Boren of Chicago-based Simplicity Works says to "define the space if possible: maybe with a curtain or even a rug, the way you would define another activity's zone within the living space." This works even if you don't have an entire room to set aside. Another way to delineate this space as somehow different? Boren highly recommends plants—"growth and life right there for the artist to soak up."

•To thineself be true. If you need a lot of room where you can spread out all your crafty projects and leave them overnight, it's extra important to have a worktable dedicated just to this. You don't want to use set-up and clean-up times as excuses. If you know you work best when actively blocking out distractions, maybe all you need is a laptop and a corner cafĂ©. Remember that not everyone works best in his or her own home. It's all about learning what works best for you, and not judging it.

•It's clean-up time. Get rid of everything you don't need: old projects, other people's stuff, pieces of furniture or accessories irrelevant to the tasks at hand. Clutter is a great way to distract yourself and provide a built-in procrastination excuse ("Oh, I'll finish that sonnet, I just need to organize my tax returns first..."). It also blocks energy, in case you speak feng shui.

•Get organized. Even if this means investing in some shelving or a shopping spree at the Container Store, this is an important step. Organizing your space can actually alleviate stress and make it easier to focus and find time in your busy life to be creative.

•Eliminate distractions. For me, it helps to not have my laptop connected to the Internet while I'm writing. That way, I'm not even tempted to obsessively check my email or, ahem, browse the eye candy in's galleries. You know what distracts you. Get rid of it. (Wait, unless it's your spouse, or a child or something. In that case, perhaps politely asking them to leave is best.)

•Prepare your arsenal. If you are a visual artist, separate your paints, inks, and pencils into individual containers. If you're a crafter, set aside separate areas for felt, thread, googly eyes, and the like. Once you actually get to sit down and work on something, you don't want to have to spend a lot of time finding the tools you need just to get started. There are enough obstacles to making art; no need to create your own.

•Gather your totems. Surround yourself with meaningful objects that spark your creativity. Maybe this is an inspiration board collaged with images and sketches. Maybe this is a special souvenir or relic that conjures a creative state of mind or reminds you of what you want to create. The surface area of my desk is dedicated solely to a laptop, a playful and expressive lamp designed by Marcel Dzama, one of my favorite artists, and some totem-like objects: a glass globe of sand from White Sands, New Mexico accompanied me as I wrote my book which took place in the southwest.

•Remember, making space in your home for creativity is an important part of making space in your life for creativity. Now, get your space in shape and go make something. Good luck!"

Text by Amy Shearn

I couldn't agree with this article more!!! I just moved my desk and computers to our office space and I couldn't be happier. I still have some decorating to do - which I'm looking forward to, but I wanted to gather some inspiration first. I also wanted to ad, that by taking my computer and stereo out of my bedroom, I sleep much better. Also, since I now work in a designated office space, I am much more focused on the task at hand, because I'm not distracted by...well, my bed.

I am so envious of this workspace! I learned the hard way that for me, a large desk is an absolute must. It allows me to create stacks which is how I prioritize magazines, inspirational photos, and papers.

Keeping everything ordered will not only look nicer, but improve your efficiency.

Bright colors (like these sunflowers) are believed to help creativity. Especially orange!

I'm not crazy about this room, per se, but I do love the cork wall in the back. Great way to keep everything in sight if you're one of those "out of sight, out of mind" people

via Domino


Sa-Sea Boutique said...

Okay...Now I feel the need to clean and organize my work space. :) love this post! I need to print it out and hang it on my "to do" list. :)

Denise Fasanello said...

I love that red chair

maven mama said...

Amen, sister! Now if I could just get the baby to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time...

Isa said...

thanks for this, I printed it out to remind me. Daily. I've been meaning to do this for a while, just haven't found the perfect desk yet. Suggestions?

Lee said...

You've just given me all the encouragement I need to reorganise my office space. Thanks for a very timely post.

Victoria Bennett Beyer said...

What a great article to share. I absolutely love that tree wallpaper.

I recently moved into a new house, and after living there for 2 months and still not setting up my studio in one of the tiny guest bedrooms, my husband suggested I take the master bedroom. I thought he was crazy at first, but after all, how much space do you need to sleep? I'm still getting organized but all my stuff is in one place for the first time in my life and it feels amazing!

And, for the record, I've been far more productive since setting up my own space. For me it is all about being able to leave things out on the table. I like to mull things over when I get stuck and if I had to put it all away, I'd never come back to it to finish.

PJ said...

Love the armoires, tables and chests. LOVE the red chair! REALLY LOVE the treasure trove of photos you post regularly!!!!!

wecouldgrowup2gether said...

creative space is crucial! im trying to create one now, starting with a new desk!

Down Comforter said...

Some good tips & photos - thanks :)

Sony Laptop Parts said...

Wow.. All I have to say isssss bravvvvoooo! Honestly, most people look @ life and really see that there is just sooo much to accomplish that they don't even know where to begin. And then, years down the line they end up regretting not taking the first steps to help them excel in their career. But you, you are the definition of true efforts and really, I think you got to where you want to be by 'planning'
Planning is something that sounds so simple, but while in Oxford, we learned that if you want to make it big in life just like those wealthy people, you have to A) Start Young (and) B) Plan ahead
And literally planning ahead got me to where I want to be in life with a six figure income and I bless every day that I live, really. All I have to say is kudos to another individual that lives his life successfully like I do :)


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