Everyone experiences a creative block. It’s perfectly normal and an important aspect of developing your creative skill. But if you find yourself getting stuck in a rut all too often, or if struggle to stay in a creative flow, there may be some small changes you could try out to optimise your space to give you a helping hand.
Studies have shown that ambient noise at a minimum level is best for driving creative juices. Silence isn’t stimulating enough, whereas loud or distracting noises draw our attention away from the creative task at hand. A moderate to minimal noise level causes just enough distraction that there is some struggle for our brains to think about the task at hand, and this slight struggle is perfect for stimulating creative thinking and problem solving.
Keep your space at a comfortable level of warmth. If you’re too cold then your body is spending too much energy on keeping warm, taking energy away from your creative mental processes. Somewhere between 19 to 24 degrees Celsius is perfect, depending on your preference, or between 66 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for our friends on the other side of the Atlantic. Obviously not so warm that you’re damp from sweating or falling asleep!
Low light levels are proven to stimulate flights of creativity, bright light is best for productivity, when you just need to get a job done, but for coming up with new ideas and for problem solving, try dimming the lights or switching to a lamp or even candles if you can’t dim down your main lights. It’s easy to pick up one of those remote controlled light bulbs from big supermarkets or online, they come with dimming options as well as some fun colour changing abilities too.
The theory is that lower light levels allow us to feel less exposed, less vulnerable and more likely to take risks, which is why it’s more conducive to creative thinking.
Creativity, like everything else in life, is a skill that requires practice. It’s also a ritual. Structuring routines and regularity into your creative practices can really help to get you going when you sit down to do something creative and can help you to stay in the flow. Having a separate, physical space is a great way of doing this. A dedicated studio space specifically for your creative outlet is the dream, but of course not many of us can dedicate a whole room, so even just having a section of a room, or a desk, that you only use for creative means can be a huge help. Aim to have a space for your ‘busy’ work, your day-to-day regular tasks, browsing the internet or whatever else and another area just for getting creative and nothing else.
Writer Austin Kleon talks about this on his website; he has two desks, one ‘analogue’ where nothing digital is allowed as this is purely for creative work and another ‘digital’ desk for where his computer lives, for editing, publishing etc. A picture he shared on his post about this is below.
If I had to pick just one thing as being the most effective, I’d probably say that for me it’s separation. I find this really helps to get my brain into a creative mode and has had the most impact. However, the others are probably much easier to do if you’re limited on space. Let me know how you get on and if there are any other tips or ideas you guys have for optimising your space for that creative flow, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!