Making space for creativity

Posted on March 28, 2020 by Sarah Robertson

Does time feel like it’s in short supply right now? In a matter of weeks, our routines, lifestyles, and businesses have shifted beyond recognition. Which means you might be struggling to make room for yourself. This month’s blog is a bit different from what we usually publish and looks at some of the simple ways you can fit creativity into your days. I hope it resonates with you.

Making space for creativity

This year, I started The Artist’s Way, a 12-week course on ‘Discovering and Recovering your Creative Self’. The group I’m facilitating is now on chapter 10, ‘Recovering a Sense of Self Protection’. It’s been a struggle to keep up with it lately, but every Sunday night, we meet online to chat about what we’ve uncovered that week. And there have been so many benefits. The most important, for me anyway, has been re-learning the importance of making time for my ideas. Even if it’s just for 20 minutes upon waking or before sleeping, so I can feel fulfilled at the start or end of each day. I’ve shared a few hints and tips below which could help you too.

Value your time
Once I decided earlier this year to prioritise creativity, it became easier to adapt my approach to life and work and fit it in. I said no to things that could drain my resources and yes to things that filled my cup. And I feel calmer as a result. But for the last few weeks, we’ve lost some control over our life minutes. Many of us have turned our attention to caring for our children, all while juggling a career or business, and it doesn’t leave room for much else. This means that the moments we set aside for our interests are no longer there. So my plan, for now, is to keep it simple. To take small steps to engage in some form of creativity each day. And to protect that time as I know it supports my mental health.

Schedule in ‘mini creative dates’
Before lock-down, I followed a couple of online courses, started going on photo walks, and prepared to join a group programme for business. Sadly, I’ve had to drop the ball on these things, but if I have extra time in my day (which, let’s face it, is scarce), then I might try my hand at baking or playing, usually with our little intern. For you, meditation or calligraphy might be the answer. Or maybe illustration or photography. Anything that supports our minds will ultimately improve what we bring to the world at this time. The important thing is to be kind to ourselves and remember that it’s okay not to be doing all the things we were previously doing if they’re not achievable right now.

Remove unnecessary distractions
I often leave my phone in another room or switch it off, so I resist reaching for it. I switch off notifications and my apps, such as Instagram or WhatsApp, already require me to open them to see comments and messages. I firmly believe that someone will call me in an urgent situation, so emails and the like can always wait for an hour or two. Scheduling in windows early morning and late afternoon to read and reply often helps, so I’m protecting my time. TV, music or other background noise can also be a barrier, in which case you could take yourself off to another room or pop on some noise-cancelling headphones.


People generate more ideas and solutions to creative problems when they're at home than in any other single environment.

Set up a dedicated space
Is there a place in your home that you can dedicate to your creativity? Maybe your dining room, office or living room? Or are you lucky enough to have a whole area you can use for your creative practice? My space happens to be my sofa, where plants usually surround me and, if I’m in the mood, I’ll pop on a favourite playlist or light a candle before getting down to writing. Having your own space helps to give you the best start, as does having all the materials you need to hand, so you don’t have to “set up” each time you want to create. You could also try changing your environment and moving furniture around if it’s no longer inspiring. This can change our approach to thinking and problem-solving, so I’m thinking of doing it myself!

Connect and collaborate with others
Connecting with others over The Artist’s Way has opened my mind up to joining and investing in smaller group programmes, and I plan to join others. But while those are on hold, I’ve still been making connection a priority. This might look like having a group WhatsApp call with your friends or taking part in a virtual pub quiz in your daily life. And in work, it could be anything from having a Zoom call instead of an email exchange or sending snail mail to a client or colleague. Throughout this time, let’s reach out to others and encourage them to reach out to us. It’s essential to set boundaries, of course, but it’s important to stay in touch too.

Keep an open mind
To paraphrase Donald M. Rattner in his article about ‘How to Use the Psychology of Space to Boost Your Creativity’, “People generate more ideas and solutions to creative problems when they’re at home than in any other single environment.” So, I wonder, could being confined to our homes spark our imagination? Can we look at this challenging time from a different perspective? Is it an opportunity to find more joy and play in our spaces? Our ability to wonder, and to search for answers, is what ignites our curiosity and creativity. So open your mind, see where it takes you. This time could be a catalyst for change in our approach to life and work.