How to Make A Creative Space

Setting yourself up for success is an important first step in any endeavor, whether that is writing the next great American novel or finishing a Beyoncé bust made entirely of beeswax. Personally, I find it hard to make the time and space for the hundreds of projects I have planned. Between classes, club meetings, and the never-ending list of things I have to do, it’s difficult even finding the time to do a quick sketch or read a Dickinson poem. When I do get a second to write or draw, I feel so distracted by my environment that I end up watching Netflix in bed or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. I recently found a way to combat this issue when I did something my mother always nagged me to do at home: clean my room. After clearing away brownie crumbs and random flyers, I realized that my desk could become my own oasis for creating something beautiful in the midst of my hectic life. Here are five tips for constructing your own creative space.

1. Figure out how and where you work best.

While I tend to do my best work sitting at a desk or outside on a bench, some people need a bit more of a relaxed environment when they create. It’s important to try a variety of spaces before deciding on the one that works best for you. Try figuring out if you need quiet or noise, solitude or companionship, warmth or coolness, light or darkness, etc. It is also a good idea to figure out what time of day you work better. As a night owl, I’m proud to join the ranks of Franz Kafka and George Orwell, but I also recognize the merits of early risers like Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison. Remember that what works for others may not work for you, but it is still important to try a variety of situations before figuring out how you work best.


2. Make sure your materials are readily available.

There is nothing worse than being struck with an awesome idea for a project only to realize that you don’t have any of the materials to make it happen. If you’re like me, you need to write down or sketch out your ideas the moment you think of them; otherwise, they will be forgotten. For this reason, I keep an excessive number of pens in my desk and backpack, so I’m always ready when inspiration hits.


3. Find a clean area to work.

A clean space to work allows you to focus on what you are doing rather than the millions of other little distractions that conspire against artists. In less pretentious terms, having your phone out as well as five different coffee mugs may not be conducive to the kind of free thinking needed for creativity. With this being said, some people enjoy a certain amount of clutter, as they draw inspiration from what surrounds them. In this case, it may be good to have a few extraneous items lying around. However, these sources of inspiration should be chosen with care and should not be things that will distract you from your art. This brings me to my next point about what to include in your space.


4. Choose your clutter wisely.

Despite my qualms with messiness, some amount of clutter can actually stimulate your brain in fascinating ways. Although I like to work at my desk, I also enjoy opening the window and letting the outside sounds and sights influence my writing and doodling. In addition, I keep certain mementos around to motivate me to work. Above my desk, I have taped up quotes about the importance of art and small motivational notes to encourage me to write. I also have a poster of Barack Obama because he is one of my personal role models. If the first black president’s radiant smile doesn’t make you think, “Yes we can,” I don’t know what will. All of these things not only motivate me to work, but imbibe my art with positivity.


5. Get away from social media and other distractions.

This is something I cannot stress enough. I cannot tell you how many times I have been struck with an idea for a story, excitedly grabbed a pen, and before even writing down a single letter, an Instagram notification sends me spiraling down the endless rabbit hole of social media. It’s easy to say you’ll just go on Facebook for a minute or watch one quick episode of Bob’s Burgers, but the truth is that you’ll probably waste two hours just mindlessly scrolling. In order to resist this temptation, place your phone far away from you and keep it on Do Not Disturb or simply turn it off. If you are working on your laptop, turn off the WiFi so you are not tempted to open a web browser. It is also a good idea to set a timer for yourself. This way, you can force yourself to work for a certain amount of time before letting your mind wander. On the other hand, you may find that you work better when you take frequent breaks and allow yourself to be distracted. In terms of the creative process, it’s impossible to create a “correct” way of doing something, but social media is generally not the best way to stimulate your creativity.

Finding the time to be creative can be tough, but making a space for your artistic side to flow freely can help motivate you to seize any moment of inspiration. With your own creative space now constructed, go forth and make something beautiful. Let me know about where you work best and what you do to make the best creative space for yourself.


Image Credit: Vahni Kurra