Most writers and artists need privacy and solitude to tap into their creative selves. Creating is not always easy, but it can be even more difficult if is done in an uninspiring environment or surrounded by unwanted people and noise. Before beginning your writing practice, it’s a good idea to find a time and place when you can be by yourself uninterrupted for a significant block of time. It should be a place where you feel comfortable and grounded. Writer Virginia Woolf spoke about the importance of having “a room of one’s own” in her book by that title. She was referring to a figurative room, which can be a deeper concept than what might be an actual physical space. She believed that women (and all writers) should have a place where they can go to write and feel safe and comfortable—a place that offers a blanket of support, while also being inspiring.
Your creative area can be a room in your home or even a part of a room there; it can also be in a public place where you feel comfortable. If you choose to make it a sacred space in your home, you may want to consider including special items that inspire you and make you smile. Perhaps they are artifacts from memorable travels or family heirlooms that jog your memory about certain times in your life.
My writing space has candles, essential oils, prayer beads, and photos of my family. I am also surrounded by my collection of typewriters, as a reminder that my first book written in the 1980s, Getting Pregnant and Staying Pregnant: A Guide to High-Risk Pregnancies, was written on a Smith Corona. In the corner of my desk sits a Buddha holding a stone that says “serenity.” Seeing his face grounds me. Years ago, I read that some major corporations placed coffee-scented candles in their offices as a way to increase productivity. So now I have one of those burning on my desk. I find that it alerts my senses and keeps me motivated, perhaps in the same way as drinking a cup of coffee would. Behind my desk is a bookcase holding all my favorite reference books, and nearby is my altar and a chair for my daily meditation practice. My room also has a reading chair and an ottoman facing my garden.
There have been times when I was not blessed with such a special sacred place, because either I was traveling or my living quarters weren’t amenable to one. Here are some ways to create a sacred creative space wherever you are:
- Make yourself comfortable.
- Close your eyes, uncross your legs, and take some deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Listen to your breath and concentrate on it.
- Imagine visiting a room of great importance in your life. If you don’t have one or want to create an imaginary one, that’s okay.
- Use your third eye (the space between your eyes) as a movie camera, and try to visualize the room. Capture all its details. When you are ready, open your eyes.
- If you’re a writer, pick up your pen and write about the space, describing it in great detail. If you’re an artist, try drawing the place. Stay in the moment and try to create without looking up. What do you see in your space? What are you feeling in your body when you are in your space? What is your heart feeling while in your space?
Mythologist Joseph Campbell also spoke about the importance of having a sacred space as being necessary for everyone—a place without human or world contact, a place where you can simply be with yourself and be with who you are and who you might want to be. He viewed this place as a place of creative incubation. He said that, even though creativity might not happen right away when you are in this special space, just having it tends to ignite the muse in each of us.
Sometimes it is a good idea to vary your creative location. Working or writing in a different place brings an altered perspective to your creativity. As a writer, when there was an abundance of chain bookstores, I spent a lot of time in their coffee shops. I did some of my best writing there—perhaps as a combined result of the ambient noise, the smell of coffee, and being surrounded by books. At home, sometimes classical or spiritual music helps me concentrate. However, listening to music with lyrics can be difficult while writing, although the lyrics of some musicians, such as Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan, are very inspiring for some people.
During my teens, my grandfather introduced me to the fine art of people watching in Parisian cafes. We’d sit for hours observing people and talking about them. I am still inspired by the white noise of cafes. After my grandfather passed away, I continued the practice and then expanded to bookstore coffee shops. When not working on my projects, I would write in my journal about what I saw. I wrote about the people passing by, wondering what they were doing when not in the book store. I also sometimes documented conversations. It was a fun exercise that I sometimes suggest to my workshop participants. For another change of venue, on a nice day I like to write sitting in a park—another great place to people watch. If you’re an artist, sitting near cafes or in a park can also be an inspiring way to create a sacred space
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.
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