20-09-2019 – The Imagineering Suite, Amersfoort (NL)

The six basic elements of a working product – Your workplace & methodes

Flowdiver - Blog7 - Your workplace & methods

The fifth element of the six basic elements of a working product is one that people tend to underestimate. Today we will talk about our workplace and the methods we use to get into a creative process. And to give this a little emphasis, I would like to post the following statement:

Your workplace and methods are crucial in the starting and maintaining of a creative process. If these elements are not in sync with your personal needs, a creative process is almost doomed to fail in advance.

The word workplace, calls for certain associations. People tend to think of places were manual labor, hammering, sawing and other things are being done when this word pops up. Yet, every place in which creative work is started or maintained can be labeled as a workplace in my opinion. This could also be the kitchen table with a laptop for example. If that works for you, then that is your workplace. Is it of vital importance to keep that place in such a state that it will benefit your creative process.

For storytellers, poets and other word artists, life can be that simple… For musicians, stonecarvers, pencil artists, painters and/or other more physical creative people things tend to be a bit more complicated. It is an often heard problem that people have creative ambitions and urges, but they still are not able to do anything with it because they don’t have a workspace that allows them to.

I am convinced however that every location, no matter how difficult things sometimes seem, can be turned into a workspace if the will is strong enough. We live in a day and age in which we have the internet, IKEA and personal ideas to change a living- or business-related space into a more optimal workplace for your creative work. You do however need to take the steps to change things up and see the importance of it. If you don’t put energy into the creation of a workplace for your creative work, it will not just come to be out of nothing.

Recently, I coached someone on this very subject. This young lady told me that she had not touched her musical instrument for a year(!) because she thought there was no space for her to actually practice and do something with it in her small house. She was rather annoyed by this and didn’t know how to handle that. My simple advice was, that she SHOULD pick up her instrument and had to see how she could perhaps change her house a little to accomodate her creative needs with the least possible resistance. Every bit of resistance (I can’t find my cables. My instrument is still in a bag somewhere. The amp is not hooked up. Etc etc) will lead to a dent in your creative flow and can even cause your original ideas to fade away completely. Creativity tends to be a short boost of energy which can be diminised easily if the situation is not catered to it. And of course you will have creative ideas during a work meeting or at other moments were its not convenient. But if you know that there is a place where you can work on your creative ideas somewhere, it will benefit your mental state and thus your creativity in general.

I ended up guiding this lady in this process and with a little help from a thriftstore (and 10 euros for a small cupboard that she could use) she was able to make a little corner in her house in which she can now grab her guitar and get to play it within 5 seconds. The happiness and possibilities that this provided for her, helped her to be more creative in the last few weeks then in the last couple of years. And as you can see in this example, sometimes it’s just a little step that needs to be taken to create a more functional workplace.

Sometimes it takes a bit more research to create a placet hat optimally supports your creative endeavours. I know many people (including myself as a studio owner) that have taken years to create the optimal workplace for their needs and are still updating things. You change as a person in terms of needs. Your workplace should change along with those needs accordingly.

Okay, so now that we have the workplace role clear, what do our methods say in this process?

People tend to develop a certain method of working as they do things. Often we are not even aware of this process taking place. Methods evolve from our habits. Most people tend to have a certain order in which they do things which evolved and grew over time and which is valuable to evaluate once in a while. If you are stuck in your creativity while you do have a good workplace, there is a pretty big chance that our methodes are the culprit that causes your stagnation.

But what can you do about that? Funny thing is, that the answer to that is a lot simpler then most people think.

To break a pattern or habit, the best way to achieve that, is by trying something different and see what happens. Example: You are a songwriter and you ALWAYS start writing on the guitar. Then chances are, that when you pick up the guitar you will play the same bunch of chords and things you always do. This is very logical. You play what suits you and what comes naturally. However, at moments like these, it is important to challenge yourself. Try to play different chords or scales. Or try to play a style you would normally NEVER play just to see what happens. Or instead of guitar, why not try bass, piano or tuba.

Or let’s say you are a painter who has a very specific niche/style of painting. Try to change it up by painting in a different style. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even good. But purely because you challenge yourself, you will gain new knowledge and experiences that will benefit your own methods.

I know this all sounds incredibly simplistic, but the essence of breaking a pattern is truly that simple and can be achieved that easily. By doing something that goes beyond your comfortzone, you will have to apply different ideas. Which instantly forces you to think in a creative way and thus challenges you. Daring to go beyond the standard ideas is hard and can also be a bit scary. But experience tells us, that it is one of the most rewarding ways to develop oneself and to learn new methods.

And if you have a functioning workplace and proper methods to your disposal, you will see that your creative output will increase significantly!

See you next week!