Several days ago I posted this video showing my office space. Today I am going to share some thoughts about how to dial your own creative space up to 11.
But why do you need a creative space? Can’t you just move aside some month-old piles of laundry and use the old imagination?
I mean, all you need is your brain, right?
Absolutely no! Nobody just uses their brain for anything. They need other stuff! Like coffee and a thing to set the coffee on!
Having a place of your own is very important to making anything. Here are some tips on creating that place:
1 – MARK YOUR SPACE – AND NO, NOT THE SAME WAY DOGS MARK THEIR SPACE
Animals have long been highly territorial. Just ask the orange cat that roams my neighborhood. I only live here because he allows it. Anything else that dares trespass on his street gets pulverized. I have a few scars to prove this.
A good deal of fuss has been sussed out about the old “this land is my land, this land ain’t your land” argument and your creative space is no different. If you are like me and live with other human beings, you will need to let them know that your creative zone is sacred and if they dare trespass, there will be consequences.
Hang a sign, put up some chicken wire, get a little brother guard dog. Anything to create a wall between you and distractions and interference. There are special things happening there! You are making stuff!
No boys allowed!
Unless you are a boy. In that case, you’re okay.
2 – MARK YOUR TIME
According to Professor Obvious McGee, there are five dimensions to space. The first three, that band from the 1960’s and Time. You should always make sure you create stuff in the time dimension. Whatever time dimension you choose, make sure it is not when Downton Abbey is on, as you will never write another word after that.
Deciding on the time you will make stuff is very important. Work on getting consistent with that time. Visit that dimension every day. This has been tremendously helpful for me.
Its also important to decide when you stop making stuff. For years I didn’t get that if I spent 12 hours holed up in my cave of wonders, I started to look a little twitchy. Don’t squeeze your brain like that. Decide when to end, then end!
3 – DECORATE WITH JOKES
No matter how big your space is, its important to get the decorating right. There is a lot written on the webs about cute things you can use to organize and fun desk accessories (my video shares a few) but I offer a different piece of advice.
Decorate with jokes that only you get.
Anyone can go to Target and buy a picture of a butterfly and hang it above their desk. Bo-ring! Instead, go find some stuff that reminds you of funny times, of pleasant experiences, but that few to zero people would actually get. In my office there are several toys right below my keyboard, each one has a significance and funny story attached to it, but you will never know what they are.
Mwah ha ha ha!
Why do this? Because these objects describe you. As weird and random as they are, they allow you to tap into your more creative side by evoking your past. Which brings me to the next point.
4 – DECORATE WITH CHILDISH THINGS (NO MATTER HOW GROWN-UPPITY YOU MAY BE)
Without going into a lot of science (they won’t let me into science after the mess I made of their cafeteria last year) I will point out that as we grow, our front brain develops a filter (the prefrontal cortex) that stops us from screaming inside Walmarts (see my curse post), and treating stairs like slides and putting questionable objects in our mouths.
But this nasty prefrontal cortex brain-thingy also inhibits free creativity in a serious way. If you walk the halls of an elementary school and see all the art, you will notice two things:
A) Second graders are better at art than you. Even if you have an MFA.
B) Elementary schools still smell like crayons and Salisbury steak.
Kids just don’t have the Great Wall of Minda that adults have. Adults could study at the university for years and never replicate the mastery of their early “Spaghetti Noodles Impasto” work. This is good news if you are a kid but bad news if you are a kid in a bigger body. The best you can do is keep toys and cartoons and crayons on hand. And use them!
Incidentally, corporations have latched on to this science and have gone to great lengths to foster that child-like creativity in their office spaces.
5 – DON’T TAKE ANYTHING TOO SERIOUSLY
This mantra will serve you well for life. The best funerals I have ever attended had a lot of humor in them. The best friends I have ever had made me laugh constantly and I am at my best when I am goofy, fun and playful. When you create your space, don’t put a lot of scary pressure on yourself to make it perfect. There is no perfect! Instead, take off the pressure and make it silly. And when the New Yorker staff member comes to interview you, they can write something like this:
“She sits on her banana-shaped couch pensively, as if to slip on her work.”
(That was a banana peel joke. Sorry if it was too meta. That’s my prefrontal cortex at work.)
What do you think makes a good creative space?
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