In the last article, The Creative Mind, we discussed the mental aspects of fostering creativity. This week, we pick up where we left off. If you haven’t read that article, I recommend checking it out.
Now that we’ve got ourselves acting like kids and thinking like crazy people, let’s talk about some of the external factors that help foster creative thinking.
The Creative Space
Before we are ready to start the process of ideation, it’s important that we take a look at our environment. An environment that encourages creativity can really help ease the process. So what makes a good creative space? There are two factors here — the physical environment and the mental environment.
The physical environment should be comfortable above all else. If we are too cold/hot or our back hurts because we have a crummy chair or there’s too much noise, we will be distracted and unhappy. In the last article, we talked about solitude, and it’s worth re-iterating here: a good creative space should give us the ability to have quiet, and to isolate ourselves if needed. It should also be a place where we can be loud and move around without disturbing others, especially if working in a group. It should not be boring and sterile. Nothing kills creativity like a vast expanse of grey cubicles. If your regular work area is like this, move somewhere else to do your creative work. Decent decor with a little colour helps. Having interesting objects around also helps for a number of reasons. Personally, I love having toys around. It doesn’t have to be Peewee’s Playhouse, but having an area to work in that stimulates the senses seems to make the process more natural. It’s also very important to have writing surfaces. Even if you work alone, having whiteboards, chalkboards, paper easels etc. is essential. I personally have in my office a big whiteboard and a door painted with chalkboard paint. I actually wish I had more writing surfaces. I find I do my best thinking on my feet. I like to move around, pace, pick things up, and write things down as they come to my mind in big chunky sloppy letters. You may find the same is true, especially if you have issues with maintaining focus (ADD etc.). Being on your feet keeps the energy flowing and keeps you focused. It also helps having the ideas up on a board to stare at while doing your deep thinking.
The mental environment is equally as, if not more important than, the physical environment. The crucial factor here is judgement. Whether working alone, or in a group, it is vital that all judgement be deferred to the latter portion of the process. We need to allow ourselves to bring forth every possible idea, even if crazy, stupid, or impractical. We need to remain open to experimental methods, sideways approaches, and outlandish solutions. If working in a group, people should be encouraged to share their ideas and should not be criticized. They should feel comfortable and appreciated, and all hierarchy should be left at the door.
Great examples of creative spaces
So what do you think? How important is your work space in your creative process? What’s your creative space like? Please share!
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