Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Creative Space

My one word for 2012 is CREATE.  So I’ve read a lot of advice this year on sparking creativity. I love this topic. But here’s one important thing I’ve realized: each person’s creativity takes a unique form and different kindling to spark.

Image Credit: Susan at Between Naps on the Porch

For instance, some of us are naturally more structured – we have to work at relaxing our impulse to control things in order to be serendipitous.  Others are naturally spontaneous –  we have to work at creating and maintaining structure and routine to get things done.

For creativity to thrive, you need a degree of both structure and spontaneity.

Creativity often involves exploration, experimentation, play, and plenty of failed attempts. In other words, it doesn’t always look or feel productive. But it is! New stimuli. New input. New connections made. Trying and seeing. All of this is part of the creation equation.

And yet so is structure and ritual. A great many writers I know write in the same space at the same time of the day, every day. (In fact, as I was composing this post writer Jeff Goins posted this.) It’s an ingrained ritual, so it never not gets done. They sit down to create at the set time and the ritual itself primes the pump. Like Pavolov’s dogs and the bell.

Plus, without sticktoitiveness and follow-thru none of those creative dreams we incubate will come to fruition.

So I thought I’d share some creativity-boosting strategies that work for me. Today’s strategy is: Declutter.

Personally, I lean more toward the spontaneous side of the spectrum than the structured side. In other words, by nature I am a messy desk person. (That is unfortunate since you can see my home office from my entry way.) But I have found – though at first I was loathe to admit it - that I am at my creative best in a tidy, orderly environment.

An uncluttered space fosters an uncluttered mind that is free to think, create and dream.

Now let me clarify, the space doesn't have to be minimalistic. My desk doesn't have to be totally empty - devoid of all signs of work and life. But it also shouldn't look like this if I want to sit down and create something.

This isn't my desk, it's Evelyn's desk. And it wasn't conducive to creativity or productivity. So she decided to clean it up, rearrange and organize it a bit.  Here's her after photo:

 Photos by EvelynGiggles licensed for use under Creative Commons.

Which space would you rather create in?  Which space allows you to think clearer?

I prefer my office even more streamlined than Evelyn's new, neat, compact space. But everyone is different. Even so, I'm convinced a sense of order and some "white space" in your environment fosters the ability to create.

You agree? Does your desk tend towards mess?

Could a quick clean free your mind to think?


  1. Hey, where's your space? I'm so curious to see it after reading this post.

    Mine's currently in-between chaos and order. I'm in transition, as I always am this time of year.

    And the thing about creating is that it usually produces mess simultaneous to creating the final product. As neat as I might arrange my desk, I'll eventually be pulling out books, notebook, scraps of paper on which I scribbled a thought, and it'll be covered again. So I guess I just need the discipline to straighten and clean over and over and over.

    Any thoughts on that? Have you developed a habit of reclaiming your desktop, say, once a day or once a week?

    1. Hey Ann. I'd totally post a pic of my office but my camera recently died. Not the battery, the camera itself. And I own a non-smart phone (gasp!). Once I can take pics again, I will post them.

      YES, creating something creates mess 9 times out of 10. That's acceptable to me b/c it's necessary. Where the decluttered space comes in handy is on the front end of starting something new. The conceptual phase.

      As I admitted, I'm not naturally this way so I'm doing a once-a-week resetting of my space. On Tuesdays. And if I need to dream up something new, I'll often reset the space, even if it's not a Tuesday. (Resetting is what I call cleaning since I am slightly emotionally allergic to the idea of cleaning.)

      But then I was the girl who had to clean her dorm room before she could study for an exam.

  2. Good advice! I need a once/week "reset" button: "That was easy."

  3. Thank You Rachel!!! Much needed! I am a little of both too but lean more toward, clean and streaming...this is very helpful in many ways today..:)) Thank you!


  4. My desk in our homeschool room definitely stays neat because I simply am too distracted by clutter to have it any other way. I absolutely LOVE that first picture!! That style is so me. Would love to have a space just like that, although the space I have will do just fine : )

    1. I adore that one too, Pam. Someday ...

  5. We just remodeled the kitchen. I got rid of duplicates before putting anything into it's new space. This led to new shelves and purging items in the basement. It is very liberating to have only as much as you need ... And for things to have their own place. I pray to be a good steward of possessions.

  6. Yeah and Amen!!! I can't wait to get started at DECLUTTERING my house!!!
    Thanks for spurring me on. It's a good thing! :)


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