Take a second and think about the physical location in which you’re the most creative. Think about where you’re inspired to write, where good ideas hit you, or where you have the urge to draw or create music. Is that place where you do your creative work?
Many of us don’t actually correlate our creative energies with particular places for several reasons. One, we have strange views of creativity and mental processes that all too often minimizes the role of physical and environmental conditions in the creative process. Two, we’ve got too much going on to think about something as mundane as where we’re creative – it’s like that chair that we trip on every day, that, if we stopped and thought about it, could be moved three inches out of the way to prevent the stubbed toes. But regardless of whether we think about it, the correlation’s there.
How often do you run from your couch to your “office” because you get an idea that you have to work on right then? Is there a way that you could set up your workflow so that you could just work on your couch – where you’re the most creative in the first place?
This question isn’t just for those creatives who work from home. If you do creative work and the place where you work isn’t conducive to creative work, you’ve got a problem. Is there a spare meeting room at work that you could reserve for a few hours a day and take your work there? Can you negotiate to work part of your day in the coffee shop? (Note: if you ask for either of these, make sure you deliver. Don’t negotiate to work in a coffee shop for two hours a day and come back empty-handed. If you need to, do some unreported creative work on your own time so you have that work to submit in case you end up daydreaming for your first creative session, which is likely to happen.)
The idea of working where you’re the most creative is really not much different than the idea of working when you’re the most creative when you think about it. If you’ve ever had a creative buzz killed by distractive coworkers, you know exactly what I mean – it may actually be all the more frustrating than trying to do creative work when you’re not creative since you could do it were it not for your bored and underemployed coworkers. Of course, I’m not just talking about coworkers; the thing that kills your creative mojo could be an uncomfortable chair, an office without windows, a hard drive that rattles, a child that cries, or, for that matter, pants that are a smidge too small in the wrong places. If something distracts you routinely enough where you do your creative work, the odds of you getting that creative spark become lower and lower, and, at a certain point, you just won’t be inspired there. So, thinking you should do your creative work where you can’t do it is much the same as thinking you should do your creative work when you can’t do it.
If your creative time is your most valuable time, and you’re more likely to have creative time in certain places, then it makes sense for you to get as much of your creative work (and only your creative work) in those places. If that means you have to buy some equipment – a laptop, for instance – then don’t resist it just because you’d have to buy a laptop. How long would it take for a laptop to pay for itself if you did four times the creative work on it during a week because you could do it where you’re the most creative. Think in terms of investments and/or means to production here to get real about this. (No, this does not necessarily give you an excuse to run out and buy that shiny new laptop you’ve been wanting.)
Be careful with this one, though, if your creative place is in the places you share with family or in the places that you wind down. If your living room couch is where you get your spark, then make sure to set some limits on how much you’re working and when you’re working so that your work place doesn’t change that space for everyone else. Separating “work” areas from “personal” areas makes the psychic separation easier for us, so you may have to be more cognizant and diligent at making this separation if you mix the types of areas.
Also be mindful that you only do your creative work in that space. If you move to your kitchen table because that’s where you get your groove on only to start doing all of your “office work” there, then you risk losing the creative energy of that space. Of course, you could move to someplace else after that happens, but why dilute it in the first place?
Lastly, you may decide that you don’t want your creative place to be the place that you work because you want to have a sacred place where work doesn’t officially go. If your library is intentionally an electronics-free zone, then hauling a laptop in there to work ruins it. Some places are worth leaving sacred, even if you could be “more productive” by repurposing that space. (If only our society paid more attention to this…)
I’m quite aware that this may have a mystical, Feng-Shui-ish air about it, and that’s just too much for some people. Whether you believe or think that there’s some other-worldly energy that flows through the places we inhabit or merely that we have habits that we’re not conscious of at the cognitive level, the reality of our experience is that we are, in fact, more creative in some places than others in a very similar way that we’re more creative at some times than others.
So, where are you the most creative? What can you do to do more of your creative work there?