creative spaces

I just want to pick up on a couple of ideas that I raised over the past week. The first was that of scheduling time so that you can pursue innovative activities, and the second talked about intersections between science fiction writing and economics. I thought of both of these things again when I ran across a link from Boing Boing to the ‘Where I Write’ project by Kyle Cassidy, in which Cassidy takes photos of science fiction & fantasy authors in their writing spaces.

where do you write?

Most of the writing spaces are pretty idiosyncratic, like that of Michael Swanwick (above). And then I got to thinking that my office is pretty idiosyncratic too – and I go through all kinds of strange activities when it comes time to write. For me that is a central part of being creative.

The obvious question then is this: if we have to make allowances for creative people to organise their schedules like makers instead of managers, don’t we also have to allow them to organise their personal spaces like writers instead of drones? Do we do this? A lot of times, I don’t think we do. One thing that I’m reasonably sure of though, is that a clean-desk policy does not fit very well with an innovative culture…

What does your creative space look like?

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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5 thoughts on “creative spaces

  1. Nice idea Tim…I like the outdoors when I need to be creative. That’s why laptops and wireless are so cool. You can work anywhere! Coffee shop, the pub, under a tree, on the city cat!

    …But if I just need to get some ink on paper then I am best in the office where there are no distractions- besides a bit of music and cup of tea.

    I suppose I could couch this in a James March way as: exploration requires an open and diverse context as this is conducive to variety generation, whereas exploitation requires a more simple, stable context in which I focus and execute on these idea. For me, this context is defined and operationalised largely by geography, but I suppose for other people it might be, say, music: e.g. I listed to Manu Chao when I want to be creative and Mozart when I want to execute.

  2. I’m stuck in that I do best with a large, clean desk, which I can then clutter. The problem that arises with this model is having to clean the desk at some point.

    My creative space, though small due to the environmentally friendly size of our living space, is full of vintage stuff. I love the look of old elegance, and lots of books. When you surround yourself with books, you’re surrounded with invaluable resources you can’t find online, thousands of years of the life work of the authors, and inspiration.

    I think I’d do great in a rural writer’s cabin with no internet, too. We haven’t ever spent long enough in a cabin to find out, but one place I’d love to try is the cabins at Kalaloch Lodge.

  3. Tim,

    My immediate reaction was, innovative ideas come to me when I am in the shower or washing the dishes or just about to go to sleep (etc.). All very inconvenient times and places to jot my ideas down before they float away. I complained to my wife about this so she got me a stack of mini notebooks with little pens attached to them. One of them I put on my bedside table for those late night epiphanies.

    Then after a while, I realised that all the stuff I was writing down was rubbish, incomprehensible garbled sentences and the like. The real innovative stuff was coming to me when those mini-notebooks are not close by and I had to repeat the ideas to myself until I write them down.

    But could it be that this is all about perception? Somehow I overestimate the importance and rarity of “work”-related ideas that occur to me outside of “work” and underestimate the stuff I do while working. In fact, now that I think about it, most of the coherent ideas I came up with where seeded in a variety of places and times, but almost all of them where within a “work” context.

    This does not necessarily mean that creativity happened in an office or in my designated “work” hours (indeed, I have neither!), rather it was more likely to happen while explaining an idea to a friend, reading a news article, and -more generally- seriously engaging with ideas.

  4. Interesting feedback everyone. Sam – the outdoors link is important for me too. I think I need to consciously get myself outside more regularly. Amber, I’m completely with you on the value of having books around (as anyone that has visited my house or office can tell you! 😀 ). And Marco, I’m similar in that my fleeting ideas are mostly rubbish. But on the other hand, I do engage a lot with ideas in contexts outside of work…

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