“I work at a 17th century elm table. I sit on a William Morris Arts and Crafts Chair.” Jeanette Winterson, 2015
It would be nice to think we were just a few well-chosen antiques away from writing that first novel, but there’s possibly a bit more to it than that. Which doesn’t stop writers giving plenty of credit to their creative space as a source of inspiration any chance they get. Judging by the number of open studios scattered around the world, artists aren’t shy about opening doors either. And don’t get us started on show-off designers. You can’t turn round these days without falling over a glamorously dishevelled Brooklyn atelier to get all bitter and envious about.
Does where you create matter? Or should you just get on with it and stop making excuses? Probably a bit of both. But it never hurts to have some nice space to call your own. So even if you’re just thinking about doing something genius-y, here are a few ideas to begin with.
Make A Room With A View
Jeanette Winterson lives in the middle of a wood because she, ‘hates being indoors but loves writing’. If you haven’t penned a word yet, it might be a bit early for such a radical move. But opening up a room onto the garden with glazed bi-fold doors is an easy way to let inspiration into your workspace – even if it’s just the kitchen for now. And when the weather’s good, fold back the doors and enjoy fresh air and sunlight too. If that doesn’t bring out the poetry in your soul, nothing will.
Surround Yourself With Ideas
If you don’t have exclusive use of a room, think temporary inspiration. Buy ordinary lining paper, pin it up neatly on a ‘mood board’ perfect wall and let your imagination run riot while you’re creating. And when you’re done – or someone else needs the space – roll up your ideas and stow them for next time. It’s cheap, simple and gets you thinking outside your own head fast. Keep a photo-record of each of your ‘walls’ before you finally bin them for new ones, everything’s art in its own way.
Get A Serious Table
You might not have decided what type of creative direction to go in. But whatever passion you want to follow, a good table is probably essential. And it doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture. Folding tables aren’t the flimsy, wobbling, accidents-waiting-to-happen horrors they used to be. Now they’re big, reliably sturdy and look good too. Some even come with storage. So it’s not a problem to tuck away the tools of your genius or keep a work in progress safely away from prying eyes – until you’re ready for the big reveal, of course.
Find Inner Peace
Some creatives thrive on noise and live for the thrill of an interruption. Others need absolute peace and serenity. If you fall into the latter category and you don’t want to hide in a garden shed or work through the night, room dividing bi-fold doors are a great solution. You can have quiet, enclosed space when you need it without coming over all isolationist diva. And when you want to be back in the thick of things, simply fold the doors neatly away. One word of caution, private space is very attractive so you might find yourself with a fight on your hands to keep your new room ‘exclusive’.
Even the smallest corner can be creative if you think creatively. Basic shelves are easy, inexpensive and compelling to be around if you stack them with care. Books look wonderful and they’re still the first and best source of inspiration whether you’re a master quilter, aspiring writer or trying your hand at watercolours for the first time. Pick up thought provoking bits and pieces on your travels and have them in plain sight, but nicely arranged – especially if you share some of your workspace. And if you’re old school with pens, pencils, paints and paraphernalia, collect good looking boxes at Fleas and markets to keep them tidy and safe.
According to legend, young Pablo Picasso spent his first freezing Madrid winter in a windowless hovel painting by the light of a single candle. So clearly it’s more about the work than the workspace. But if you want to start somewhere it’s as good a place as any. Now go be amazing.