On Space and Creativity

I think space and creativity have a tricky relationship, a bit like a Ross and Rachel type of thing (#oldschoolreference), you know, they are meant to go hand in hand but sometimes you are not sure quite how to get them in the right balance.

So I thought why not figure out once and for all what the deal is there.  After some thought I have decided this is what I believe…

You need space to be creative – a busy mind and life doesn’t seem to have the room to create

We are constantly bombarded with information, inspiration, experience and ideas. The world is coming at us 24/7 whether as we walk through life, or simply through our phones or computers.

With all of this information our brain is trying to pick everything apart, work out our interpretation of it and figure out what is next – what to do we think of this and what are we going to do with it.

This is where space is the key, stepping back for a moment allows us to see things in a different way, to pull together our thoughts on the way things work. It means that when we do sit down to write, draw, photograph, sculpt, sing, compose, dance, code, you name it, we are giving ourselves space to assimilate all the information we have been soaking in and let this feed the work and in return a vision of the world that is true to us.

When we are going through emotional or mental trials this space to just step back and do something different can be one of the biggest gifts we give ourselves, because often through the space and the act of using it to create we can find some of the answers we have been looking for, or at least the perspective we seek.

But we have to be strict with ourselves about creating this space, in many ways unless we take the deliberate act to create it it can be hard to come by. Life gets on top of us and everything else seems to take priority (funny how we usually put ourselves last).

One way to do that now? Why not put an appointment in your diary – just one hour after work, at the weekend or whenever you can make time, to dedicate to a creative act of some sort.


Ok so next up in complete contrast – Too much space can be killer

Why? Well as they say creativity needs boundaries and when there are too many options you often end up doing nothing. I found this out the hard way, turns out when you turn your life into a complete blank canvas the space that seemed so liberating is delibilitating. You end up sitting in a ball in the corner of your living room starring at the blank canvas of your life petrified and quite literally frozen in fear (obviously this all conjecture and not at all what happened in anyway at all obviously not, yeah…moving on). And not one wants to be frozen in fear.

I have also discovered that boundaries make us rebel, force our minds to look at the problem in a different way, a way we might never discover if we think we can do anything. The constraints free us to challenge in different ways and this can be a liberating experience. Especially when you want to push further into your creative practice. It also often helps us get things done quicker and whilst the goal is not to do things quickly instead it is to do, somehow the quicker we do things the more productive we can feel and the more likely we are to flex that creative muscle (and who doesnt want to have the creative biceps of a titan).

One way to do that now? If you find yourself with too much space or tempted to turn your life into I can do anything moment, then maybe think about adding some constraints – it could be with colour, with length, with outcome, with theme – the options are endless (But also constrained obviously!).

Finally and perhaps most importantly – You create the space and perspective you need through the creativity

I know in many ways this flies in the face of everything I have written above but who said I couldn’t present you all sides of the argument! There are no rules remember, not in the space I am creating in! (My boundaries should you wish to know are keeping on theme). But enough of that, let’s get into this shit, because it is the nitty gritty of it.

When we have a lot going on in our lives, space, like energy, often seems in short supply. Our heads can be buzzing with trying to fix our problems and with the thoughts that take up the space we would otherwise be using for positivity.  In short our wonderful brains can go round and round in circles on the same few thoughts. I know this to be true for me, but also most people I have encountered who are thinking anything through in their life.

And this is where I have decided that creativity becomes magic.

Because if we allow ourself time to do our creative work, to do a project that sparks something, we carve out a little space in our brain thats main focus isn’t all of a sudden trying to solve the existentialist crisis of our lives but instead is about creating. As we create we stretch, we push boundaries, we expand our imagination and scope and all of a sudden there is space. It seems to me that that space helps us to figure some shit out, work through the “I don’t knows” the “what if’s” and the “how the fuck did I end up here’s” and find a different answer, or a fresh perspective. It is the blessing of fresh eyes on what we might consider an old problem.

And even better if we stick to it we can keep cultivating this space for ourselves and suddenly we move into a virtuous circle of creative exploration rather than a [debilitating cycle of existentialist angst]*

One way to do that now? Why not check out one of these project ideas. Or just grab a pen and a blank sheet of paper and create something on the theme of space!

So at the end of these musings I am now pretty convinced space and creativity are a magic couple, they might be a bit confusing and a bit contradictory at times but they are stalwarts of good mental health, and some of the best tools in our arsenal for working through the life the life throws us.

So thank you creativity and space, you beautiful things, you are making the world a better place. #letsstaytogether.

*feel free to sub in whatever your brain is work through.

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