A Creative Space of Your Own

Make it easy on yourself. Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn’t scare you, doesn’t shut you down. It should make you want to be there, and once you find it, stick with it.

Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit

Do you know what kind of work environment is most conducive to your creative productivity?

One of my favorite reading rooms: the A. D. White room in Cornell University's Uris Library

Do you dream of a seriously cool office? Have you ever had a workspace that looked like it should work, but didn’t?

Where we work has an impact on how we work. Sometimes, we need to work wherever we happen to be, but for our daily routines, we can establish an inspirational space.

Be prepared to experiment until you find a place and then stick to it.

Things to think about as you plan:

  • What do you want to see? Do you want to see nature, or will nature distract you? Do you want toys or art to look at? Are there colours that invigorate you?
  • What do you want to hear? Does music help you focus? If so, what music? And what quality of player do you need? Do you need silence, or the hubbub of a crowd, or something else?
  • What do you need to feel? If you are thinking about your comfort at your chair or your desk, you probably aren’t thinking about your work. Do you work better if you are slightly warm or cool?
  • What do you want to smell? Fresh flowers? Coffee? Essential oils
  • What do you want to taste? Coffee, mint, lemon, toothpaste, licorice?

All five senses are conscious of your environment. It is possible to use them all to inspire you.

Even a simple routine involving a comfortable place to work with something to drink and the ambient sounds touches all five.

If you are struggling to find a routine to support your creativity, spend some time experimenting with your environment. Change one element for a week and see how you respond differently to the space.

For inspiration, here are some photos of where writer’s write. Here are some written descriptions. And here, Ken Scholes mentions that his constant is the music on his iPod. The Guardian ran a long series on writers’ rooms. And finally, a longer piece on where writers write and why from Poets & Writers.

Me, I like to work on my bed or a couch with a cup of tea or coffee beside me, listening to silence or mellow music without lyrics. The only trouble is my lap gets hot from my laptop, so I’ve been eyeing one of these lap desks. And I think my back would appreciate a reader’s pillow.

Have you given thought to your work space? What environment helps you move forward creatively?


Posted on November 25, 2011, in Creativity, This Writing Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I know that a messy space doesn’t work for me. So, rather than making a long response, I’m going to go clean my music studio…

    Playful blessings,
    Stan (aka @muz4now)

    • Kate Arms-Roberts

      Good plan. My space gets messy quickly. Keeping it tidy while the house is on the market is good discipline for me.


  2. I have my office in a spare bedroom upstairs and I’m quite wedded to it, so much so that I don’t often roam with my computer (except at night, when I do emails in front of the TV). However, at the moment, it is crazy messy and that makes me not like being in there much. I keep saying I’m going to clean it and then get busy writing or working on an assignment. Soon, I swear it.

  3. Charlotte,

    Mess interferring with work seems to be a theme. I know I avoid my workspaces when they get messy.
    I hope you find the get-up-and-clean momentum soon.


  4. Kate – I had to laugh when I read this. Some of my very best writing has been on my couch or in my bed with a blanket wrapped around me. Yet it doesn’t feel like ‘work,’ so I keep dragging myself back to my (uninspiring) desk, even though I have both the lapdesk and back rest (which I highly recommend). It’s reassuring to know that other writers find inspiration on the couch. Thanks!

    Happy writing, Carolyn

    • Kate Arms-Roberts


      I, too have a desk that I find uninspiring. Two years ago, my husband cleared out space for me to have the office I always said I wanted, and I never found a way to make it a place I wanted to work.

      He is disappointed that he put that work in for something I didn’t use. I am grateful that he gave me the chance to stop yearning for an office.


  5. Currently working in my open plan living room and it’s not a good situation. Over the christmas holidays I am cleaning out the spare room and creating my own space. (My xmas present to myself).

  6. Congratulations on setting yourself and your work space as a priority.

    I hope you make a space that invites you to settle in and inspires you to work.


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