Where did the last couple of months go? With many of us unemployed due to layoffs, or having contracts suspended/delayed, there is definitely an air of uncertainty. Atop of this, we’ve also seen the world protest for racial justice and true equality, a flame of solidarity we have never captured on this scale since the post-9/11 anti-war protests.
With all this instability, my mind became creatively clouded, oft feeling like my creative spirit was slipping through my fingers. So I decided to come up with some measures to help keep grasp of this, and in essence myself. I also realized almost everything I write is so damn serious, so here’s a meme to start us off.
Since that’s out of the way, here’s my 4 tips to maintaining creative space.
Good god this is important. I have to stretch my body and mind to get into the groove. I’m not going full-Richard Simmons but my daily routine starts with deep stretching, deep tunes, deep meditation, and deep vibes. If I’m not tapping into myself, the real me is not going to translate on to paper / screen / in conversation.
It’s important to find somewhere you can rely on for safe creativity. A space that is free of distraction and free of judgement to allow for a free train of thought.
I wrote and recorded a poem earlier in the quarantine that was all about battling creative anxiety and undue pressures.
Tune into it here and take some of that weight off your shoulders, Atlas.
I live in a basement with housemates (one being a 2 year-old) and this was huge for me. I needed to create a space that didn’t have to contend with a screaming child, casual conversations, and everyday stomping upstairs. I bought a desk and stool so that I didn’t have to work in the main area, and headphones to muffle out the noise. Depending on the day, I relocate to the balcony since the street noise never gets as loud as the house.
Does that mean you can’t come up with ideas elsewhere? Absolutely not. I would argue most of us come up with ideas away from our traditional creative spaces, like the toilet or in the shower (S/O to The Hustle’s Shower Thoughts). We then tote these ideas along with us until we can develop them from our established creative spaces.
“We Bleed What We Feed”
3. Do Stuff
Nothing is better than doing stuff. Just do it… bleh, did I just do that?
But seriously, doing stuff is an important way to get your brain to function from multiple perspectives. This is key for anyone working in copywriting or marketing: one of the best ways to understand various audiences is to walk in their shoes. And no, this won’t lead to having multiple personalities.
When I’ve experienced new things, I’ve approached old concepts in a refreshed way. If we aren’t constantly questioning convention, how are we developing ourselves?
Think Jazz is weird? Listen to some Coltrane, Mingus, Brubeck, or Hancock. They’re all Jazz musicians but all have completely different approaches.
Haven’t read a book since university? Think about most of the content that you listen or watch, and there’s probably a book that talks about it too.
Drive everywhere? Start walking and taking in the fine details of your neighbourhood. Bricks may be laid in a way that you’ve never seen before or trees may twist at unique angles.
I like to say, “We bleed what we feed”, meaning that everything that we consume will find its way into our work, so just the act of exposure will be reflected on what we produce.
4. Take a Break
I guess the chocolate bar was on to something. This is probably one of the most difficult things for me: TAKE A BREAK OR BREAK YO’SELF!
And it’s true. With all this anxiety from wanting to live up to my own expectations, and the sheer passion and energy I put into everything, the fear of burning out is definitely a reality. Check out Leah Bae’s The Burnout Project to learn more about burning out.
Taking a break away from what you love is hard, it’s your baby. But if you don’t take, at the very least, a couple hours off, you’ll be toast.
Mentally fried. Psychologically flambéed. Brain braised. You get the picture.
I noticed that when I don’t take breaks, even the slightest 15-30 minutes, my stress levels go through the roof (tbh, I’m still kind of fried right now while writing this). Life is hard enough already and we need to take moments to appreciate the things that we have achieved, to be happy, and treat ourselves kindly.
I know it’s easy to focus on the things that we’ve yet to do or are out of our possession (that’s how capitalism works) but being grateful for what we do have can help ease our minds and thoughts.
Creativity is necessary to keep the world ticking and going, and it’s important that we create space for it mentally and physically. Whatever it is that you do to fuel your creative fire, I commend you and appreciate your talent, even if I don’t know you or your work.
There’s still much to do in the world but it’s important to not forget about yourself and your gifts. By giving yourself the chance to hone in on your talents, you’ll be able to show up in the world even stronger than ever before.
PS. I suggest subscribing to The Hustle’s newsletter. They bring business news straight to your inbox, but in a fashion that is way more relatable and hilarious (dare I say more credible too) than your evening news. Think pop culture, memes, and gifs balled up with economics and current events.
And no, I am not getting paid for this…but I’m open to it.