Yesterday I was in the middle of editing a longish essay I’d tentatively titled “The Seriousness of Play”, when I had to stop working on it because I suddenly wasn’t in the mood for it any longer.

That’s not unusual – I’m always working on so many different things that I often toss some of them aside when I’m stuck, or just need to step back from something until it’s fresh again, rather than sit still and wait for it to work. Inertia is the writer’s worst enemy, after all. But it was the mood thing that struck me as ironic – here I was writing a piece about play, and had to push away from it simply because I was cranky.

I haven’t laughed a lot lately. And I’m always laughing. I don’t know whether it’s a sign of overwork1, a lack of leisure time and activities2, taking myself too seriously3, or some combination of the three.

In any case, something is feeding on my sense of humor and my playful nature, which is the engine of my creativity. If I don’t figure out what this “succubus of seriousness” is and how to defeat it, it’s going to be a long winter.

  1. Yes, I have been working too hard.
  2. No, I haven’t done anything fun for myself lately.
  3. Yes, I fall into that trap from time to time.
posted 11/25/08 at 12:36pm to Me me me, Writing · 1 reply · permalink

Work space

I’ve been thinking about my workspace lately. More specifically, my workspace(s), plural. I’ve never been the kind of creative who has a special place “where the magic happens”; I work mostly out of my home office, but also my back yard, my sunroom, coffeeshops, bookshops, wherever. Provided I have relative quiet around me (or a pair of earbuds), I can be productive pretty much anywhere. It’s just something I’ve never needed to think about, because it’s never been an issue.

But obviously not all writing environments are equal, and recently I’ve become more keenly aware of exactly how productive I am and the quality of work I achieve under certain conditions. I’m getting a good sense for what helps me hit the “sweet spot” of my creativity, environmentally speaking. I haven’t quantified it just yet, but it’s made me consider trying to create one of those “special places”, and just what my requirements would be. Light and temperature are critical physical factors, but then so are less tangible things like creative ambience — e.g. is this the kind of room that inspires me to do creative work, or does it feel corporate and sterile?

My office right now is fine. It’s a nice finished room on the 3rd floor of my house, with a large desk, a small sofa, a fridge, a TV, and a large number of my books. But it’s far from my ideal of a writing studio; there is no natural light (save for the daylight that comes in from the hallway), there’s not enough shelving for the amount of books I’d like to keep in here, it’s insufficiently insulated, etc. If money were no object, obviously I would do something like build one from scratch in some other part of the house. But since that’s far from the case, I’m constrained to making decisions about how to convert my current space into something more environmentally comfortable, and conducive to my work style and habits. A space that can get me to that creative sweet spot. I’m not sure how to create that space yet, but I’m going to keep working on it.

So, for you creatives, what kind of requirements to you have for your workspaces? What helps you be most inspired, imaginative, and prolific? I’m especially interested in how you’ve molded a space for yourselves at home offices and studios. But if you work in an office where you’ve got control over your workspace and environment, that’d be interesting to hear as well.

posted 9/19/08 at 12:30pm to Random, Writing · 1 reply · permalink