Creative environments, are they a place or a time, or both?

28 May 2024

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: write about creative environments. Let’s have a go.

A creative environment, as far as I can tell, is not necessarily a place. Not one I can put my finger on, at least. Nor is it a particular time. My creative ideas, if that’s what they can be called, arrive spontaneously. Without warning. My muse’s strikes are unpredictable, to quote Amelia.

I’d wanted to take part in Juha-Matti Santala’s creative environments themed blog carnival, since hearing about it at the beginning of the month. The first blog carnival I’ve participated in — since, I don’t know — 2008? Back in the day, blog carnivals were a great way to network, and discover the work of other writers and bloggers. With the return to the small web, personal websites, and blogs, gaining momentum, maybe they will be once more.

I feel like I’m constantly being creative. Be it devising solutions to problems at work, figuring out the best way to optimise the day, or writing here, it all seems a manifestation of creativity. It seemed then like an easy topic to write about. But with days left in May to act, and after weeks of futile brainstorming, this page remained blank.

Until yesterday, when as if by magic, the words took form at one of my hot-desking locations. With impeccable timing. Just as I wanted to pack up for a short break, take a stroll, and buy some lunch. But my thoughts were also on resuming my hot desk post-haste, before the afternoon grew too old, so I could indulge in another coffee.

I can’t then always be wholly sure what triggers my creativity, and subsequently leads me to my creative environment. On this occasion, it might have been the hint another cup of coffee was in my future. Or it could be the prospect of being mobile, and on my feet. I’m not sure about the coffee, but when it comes to walking as an incubator for creativity, the science is pretty definitive.

On some days when I start walking, the ideas almost instantly start flowing. Be that going home, strolling in the park, ambling about when we stay on the NSW Central Coast, or mall-walking at a large shopping centre, on what is a track spanning, by my estimations, two-and-a-half kilometres. But whatever the setting, solutions to problems begin presenting themselves.

Do that this way. Do this that way. I often stop, mid-step, to write something in my phone’s notes apps, or email myself a snippet of a thought I’ve had. But what a lot of us may not realise, is just how much goes into the mix, when it comes to being creative. There’s all sorts of stuff up in the air.

Random, scattered, diverse, subconscious, thoughts and feelings, swirling around, just waiting for the right moment to come along, and coalesce into a solution called creativity. And that eureka moment isn’t only a setting, a place, it’s also a time.

What that place is, I don’t always know. Ditto the time. Whatever, that’s my creative environment.