Finding Space or Creating Your Own

I meet a lot of creative people who don’t know or find it difficult acknowledging that they are creative. It’s like “creative” is a dirty word, something reserved only for people who have been able to sell their creations. But creativity isn’t reserved just for the “successful,” it’s a practice the way mindfulness or exercising is a practice.

And one of the biggest blocks to the creatives I meet is that they feel like they don’t have the space to be creative.

I ran into this myself when my husband and I were first dating and had moved in together. We are both writers and we lived in a 350-square foot studio apartment nestled on the back side of a converted Victorian house that had been chopped up into at least six apartments. At the time, we had day jobs and wrote from home, so we both needed office space. Our apartment didn’t afford many options, and being in close proximity to each other, we were often distracted by each other’s presence.

Yes, we tried to work in coffee shops and libraries but sometimes, the most efficient place to work from was home, so we had to come up with a solution that would allow us both to have creative space in such a small apartment. We created a door.

The door was a white, king-sized bedsheet that hung from the ceiling between the nook for his desk and the wall space reserved for mine. The bed sheet became the symbol for “I’m working.” If the bedsheet had been pinned back, the door was considered open and we could ask each other questions or share funny memes from the internet. If the bed sheet hung to the floor, it was the equivalent of a do-not-disturb sign.

Clients on the brink of their own creative breakthroughs often come to me and say, “But I don’t have any space to myself,” or “I haven’t had my own space in years.” And what I would say to them, or to you, if you find yourself in this situation is, how much space do you need?

We move in and out of spaces all the time—we visit bathrooms, travel in vehicles, sleep in bedrooms, and while these spaces are shared, we also leave parts of ourselves within these spaces too, parts of us that are more individual and distinct. Maybe you can smell your husband’s cologne after he’s sat in the driver’s seat of the car that you share. Or, you might find one of your socks in the living room instead of the bedroom. In these small ways, we are taking up space all the time.

Our energy takes up space too. You might have heard someone say, “She has a big personality! She can fill up a whole room!” This is when someone’s aura is filling a space, and we take our personal energy with us all the time. It’s the same phenomenon as walking into a room and feeling the tension between two people who have just been fighting—even if you didn’t hear them. Our energy influences and creates the space around us all the time.

But sometimes, we need MORE space, or we need to fill the space in a more deliberate way. And this takes me back to the question: how much space do you need? If you can’t have as much space as you want, start with what you have. You have your own side of the bed. You have a chair that you sit in when you eat meals. You might have a whole drawer for toiletries in the bathroom. Start with one of these spaces and make it more intentionally yours. Use a new pillowcase, maybe something with stripes or a floral print to differentiate your pillow. Find a cushion to put on your chair. Place a small item in your bathroom drawer that reminds you of something wonderful. In these small ways, you can begin to take ownership of the space around you.

And as you take these small steps, your aura will expand to attract larger spaces to you. My husband and I had to share office space through three apartments and a year and a half of living with our in-laws. Now, we have our own house and the top floor is reserved for my office, and the basement is reserved for his. We have more space then we could need, and are so grateful for the space we have.

Look around your living space now—perhaps there’s an opportunity somewhere, a nook or cranny that could become distinctly yours, a corner, a stretch of counter, a nightstand. Make it yours. Even the smallest space can bring relief when you feel like it’s your own.

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