Last month I came across two old podcasts that talked about protecting and honoring your creative space. I read through the transcripts and while these particular podcasts were released at a time when we were far less distracted as a society (pre-Facebook and the cell phone boom) they got me thinking about my own attempts to gain control of my creative space.
As someone who is fortunate enough to have my own studio at home, I always thought that was what most important to my creative time: A place to keep all of my supplies, set up some tables, spread out, make a beautiful mess and get lots of glitter on the floor. While having this space is a blessing, it turns out, I had not been honoring or protecting it and giving myself what I need to create and be at peace while working. Today I’d like to share with you the 5 steps I have taken to better protect my creative space.
What Does it Mean to ‘Protect’ Your Creative Space?
Let me start with an example of not protecting your creative space.
After dinner on a Thursday night, I decided to put a few hours into my computer time working on my social media, designing graphics and answering emails. This meant I would have more studio time on Friday. It was going to be one of those glorious mornings that I take my coffee into my studio and create the morning away. Perfect playlist for the early morning – check. Nice breeze and sunshine coming through the window – check. Cats taking their after breakfast nap – check. (If you have cats and you make things, you get it!) So all was well in my world. I poured my glue and turned on my music. Twenty minutes later there was a buzzing, vibration and a ding that jolted me out of my happy place. My cell phone was on my table, the volume was blasting, and I got an email notification. (Vibrating cell phone on a plastic table with lots of bins of beads around while in a relaxed state of creativity = fight or flight response!) I caught my breath, grabbed my phone, and went to my email to see who it was.
At that moment, I did not protect my creative space. In fact, not making sure my phone was on silent, or even having brought my phone into my studio space is where I failed to protect it. Checking the email turned into answering the email, which turned into scanning my inbox for anything important, which turned into clearing out the junk email. I went downstairs for more coffee, emptied the dishwasher and did laundry. All while grumbling, disgusted and feeling down for not being more disciplined. My cats were now awake, meowing for snacks and chasing each other through the rooms. Now my neighbor to the right was mowing his lawn, while the neighbor across the street was weed whacking. I was hungry and cranky. So much for a productive and peaceful morning in the studio!
Not only is protecting your creative space, or any space that is sacred to you, all about setting boundaries, it is about good self-care. For us creative folks, the time spent writing, painting, drawing and expressing ourselves is essential to our well-being. Denying that to ourselves can be detrimental in more ways than one.
To actively protect the space we create art, write, meditate, or even read, we need to set boundaries not only with the people in our lives, but with ourselves. Both are difficult to do.
Here are 5 steps to be more mindful and protective of your creative space:
1. Identify Your Biggest Distractions ~ What causes you to lose focus? Is it checking your email every time it dings? Do your kids, or pets, run through your studio and disrupt your flow? Do you keep your browser open, but minimized while you write and see Facebook notifications show up on the bottom of your screen? Do you feel compelled to answer a text the second it comes through to you? You already know your triggers. It is time to acknowledge them all and write them down. Be truthful and don’t leave anything out.
2. Divide Your List Into Two Categories ~ Take a minute to separate the “who” distracts me from the “what” distracts me. Kids, pets, husband, wife, co-worker, neighbor, Aunt Helga = Who. Cell phone, Ipad, social media, changing stations on Pandora 5 times, too hot in the room = What. This will allow you to address each issue appropriately by knowing who you need to set boundaries with, and where you need to set boundaries and ground rules with yourself.
3. Let it Be Known ~ Talk to those people on your list and share, firmly and confidently, the new ground rules you have set for when you are working in your creative space. You are not to be disturbed anytime your studio door is closed. Please keep the TV or music volume down from 2pm -4pm. Please do not call or text during the hours of 8am -12pm and so on. Don’t over explain. You may have heard the phrase “What you allow will continue.” You deserve the time and the space to create. Having this time is vital to your health and well-being. If you are consistent and persistent, others will be too.
4. Check Yourself & Your Cell Phone at the Door ~ All of those things on your list that are within your control, take a good look at them and get real. Set ground rules for yourself. Keep a list of things you absolutely will NOT do when you are creating in your space where you can see it. Read it as a reminder when you sit down. Check your cell phone at the door, do not keep your web browser open while you write, eliminate all possible social media distractions. If they are not there, it will be easier to relax and get to work. Remember to shut your door. Feed your cats or walk your dog before beginning your work, turn on the AC or the heat to get your room comfortable an hour before you sit down. The extra time it may take you to prep for your creative time will be worth it when you see how much more productive you’ll be.
5. Prepare Your Space Energetically ~ You have addressed the distractions, prepared your space in a physical sense and are ready to work. Now it is time to prepare the space energetically and set your intentions for the creativity to just flow. A working definition for intention is: “to have in mind a purpose or plan, to direct the mind, to aim.” If you declare it, it is so. My little ritual includes clearing the space with a spritz or two of liquid smudge, lighting my Himalayan salt candle, and sitting quietly for a few minutes with my eyes closed. I also ask that my space be protected and filled with love, light and creativity. Some other ideas include burning incense or diffusing essential oils.
Since my meltdown that day while trying to get some studio time in, I have put these steps into place. I not only have a greater sense of peace when I sit down to work in my space, but I am focused, more confident and have got a ton more accomplished.
So to all of you creatives out there, I’d love to know how you protect your creative space! What has worked for you? Please leave a comment below.