Fluidity and Intuition are the Best Routes to Creativity.
I’ve always been fully aware that spending too much time sat at my desk can be counterproductive not to say counter-creative in the process of doing my job. I’d rather be walking around the garden doing very little than sitting at my desk doing very little (see article http://bit.ly/creativetruth). This — at the very least — gives my brain some breathing space, allowing increased elbow room for creative energy to start flowing more freely again.
Nonetheless, I do sometimes feel chained to my desk, striving for a creative way forward. These are the times when progress is a little slow, and leaving the studio to go for a walk doesn’t always seem like the right thing to do. I often stand up in my frustration and hope that my adjusted line of vision will inspire and provide me with a renewed perspective both visually and conceptually. I may well be desperately looking for some inspiration through exasperation, but what has become clear is that standing up and moving around the studio periodically does help inject some fervour back into the creative process.
When these sticking points do occur, the ‘standing up’ will inevitably involve some sort of procrastination like going to get a coffee. Even the simple act of getting up and making a procrastination-driven-coffee improves energy levels — even before any caffeine is ingested. The ‘novel’ and ‘revelationary’ idea of standing-up-more while working has since developed into a more conscious part of my creative process.
Procrastination is out, and movement is in. By being fully able to evaluate where I am by the simple act of getting up and seeing things from a different angle. This might seem a little basic on the scale of human endeavour, but the mere act of standing up does create a renewed focus, which is essential in getting anything of any value done. The studio may be quite small but moving around it works wonders in heightening energy levels and in sparking creative vitality. Simple really — creativity grows where energy flows.
I’d prefer to describe the heightened state of creativity as a moment of re-connection with my intuition. When energy is freely flowing the decisions I am making are driven more by a sense of intuition than a sense of duty to complete a task. I was talking to my mentor about this last week, and she described it as ‘training your intuition’. But to be able to train your intuition you must give it space to be present and therefore provide it with permission to be a guide in pointing you in the most enlightening and revealing creative directions. ‘Moving about a bit’ is, for me, the catalyst for the intuition flood gates to open and allow the subconscious to play its essential role in the creative process.
An intuitive approach obviously plays a big part in the creative process whether I am standing or sitting, but regular stints of working standing up allows the energy to flow and for intuition to play a more consistent role. Not randomly feeding into the creative process but being an ever-present and increasingly honed feature of the day. If I am flexing the muscles of intuition — training my intuition — then I am improving my connection with this creative force that underpins all my creative endeavours.
The last couple of years has been based on getting the mix right. Thrashing it out while sitting at my desk was never the right thing to do, so my go-to-remedy was to go for a walk or do something entirely unrelated. It’s now clear that the benefits of this approach are not just about ‘time-out’ but about an increase in energy flow and therefore re-connecting with my intuition. I might be late to the party of ‘standing desks’ and the physiological benefits, nonetheless standing up while working seems to be critical to creativity. Movement enhances the creative process.
All the creative workspaces I have ever worked in from art schools to design studios, involved healthy doses of standing up and walking around. Ideas talked about when moving about always had a unique forward motion which seemed linked to the physical action of walking and occasional bouts of arm waving. Even if the ideas were not resolved, movement enhanced the process and provided an environment to think more clearly about options and new possibilities.
We (my creative partner and I) would always meet at the vast and expansive drawing board or plan chest on the other side of the studio when we needed to thrash out some ideas and to talk through specific projects or forge new conceptual avenues. Although it wasn’t really about the space, it was more to do with the fact that we stood up while we were talking. It was creativity-in-motion, also because we had no stools to sit on. I can’t pinpoint the moment when I omitted this essential aspect — moving about — from my working life, maybe because I wasn’t fully conscious of its benefits.
So back to my current epiphany. I have now bought an addition desk for the studio — a large open, expansive drawing desk — that gives me a dedicated space to stand and work. This is not a space for productivity, but a space to allow the creative energy to flow while standing up. Productivity follows creativity.
Energy levels inevitably fluctuate throughout the day but standing up and moving about at regular intervals works well to increase energy flow. Which means an increase in the creative flow.
My newly designed work environment is a bit like my own personal gym, flexing the muscles of my intuition as well as my biceps femoris.