7 Ways to Increase Your Creativity Through Workspace Design

This blog appears in its entirety on the Writers in the Storm Blog today.

The life of a writer can be unpredictable. Family, medical issues, housing issues, and many more personal-life interruptions can disrupt the flow of words. Many of you may not have options and write when and where you can write. For example, right now I’m writing in the waiting room of a car maintenance shop. The environment here is nice, but definitely full of distractions. 

When we can choose our writing environment, it makes sense to choose a space that optimizes how we write. Keep in mind that not all of us will respond in the same way to the same physical space. In the list of elements I offer below, choose the ones that speak to you, that feel more creative to you. 

Brain Science

The theory that people are right-brained (creative, intuitive) or left-brained (logical or linear) or both is a popular myth unsupported by neuroscience. The brain’s right and left hemispheres are not separate organs. While the right-hemisphere performs more complex functions, and the left hemisphere controls most (if not all) physiological functions, the two hemispheres work together.

While the right- versus left-brain theory is a myth, it’s an easy way to understand how people think. At the extremes, a few of us are nearly 100% logical-thinkers and a few are almost 100% creative-thinkers. A few of us fall into the moves fluidly between the two. In a reality, we are all a mix of the two. Many of us continue to perceive one or the other thinking style is our primary way of perceiving the world. We’re not wrong, but it’s more complex than which hemisphere controls what. Still, we can use brain science and psychology to help us set up a work environment that supports our creativity.


Environmental psychology is the study of how our physical surroundings influence us. One of the newer sciences, it came into existence in the 1970s. 

Our mental space stands in direct proportion to our perception of physical space.

Donald M. Rattner, Architect

In other words, our physical space affects us both as it actually exists and our intuitive interpretation of that space. The more we perceive a space to be open, the more we are open to new ideas. 


The height of your ceilings affects your perception of openness. Tall, vaulted ceilings give us a sense of openness. Things that draw our eye to the height like pendant lamps or images enhance our sense of openness. 

Lateral Space

Most of us cannot do anything about the height of our ceilings. We can increase our perception of space by focusing on lateral space. 

Artwork of landscapes or faraway places can give us a sense of space. A window or a doorway with a view of the outside makes a space “feel” open. Furniture placement and a lack of clutter also affect our interpretation of the lateral space that surrounds us.

Some will say that they do better in cluttered spaces. That may be true for specific individuals. Maybe you would feel more creative with an uncluttered and more open environment. Try it. If it doesn’t work, clutter is easy to accumulate.

Learn how to engage your senses in your workspace in the rest of the article. If you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated workspace, there are other ways support your creativity.

What do you use to make your workspace support your creativity?

Image Credits

Top: Ernest Hemingway in London at Dorchester Hotel 1944, National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 

Holiday Stress Stirs Your Perfect Storm

Many creators find December, the holiday season, particularly stressful. You want your holiday to be perfect. The list of things to do during the holiday season can be overwhelming and exhausting. You are on deadlines at least to get your holiday shopping or meals or decorations done. Most likely you are also on deadlines for your creative business or you’ve got holiday gifts to create. And it’s not done yet. Holiday stress stirs a perfect storm to derail your creativity.

Photograph of holiday stress caused by a storm--in this photo appears a person in winter outerwear walking through a snow storm. In near white-out conditions you can see a once shoveled sidewalk covered in snow and large pine trees lining the long snowy walk.

So Many Holidays

December many, many holidays. Woman’s Day lists more than one hundred. My December Celebrations posts discussed thirty-seven holidays.

Some holidays hold deep meaning. If that’s adding to your stress, step back. Breathe. You don’t have to make light of your holiday.

Being a creative means being flexible. If holiday stress stirs your perfect storm, take a moment. Remember that you are creative, even if you have to put aside your work for a while during this crazy month. Allow yourself to focus on the most important things and let some things go. Most importantly, destress, have a little fun so you don’t burn yourself out. Reset your mindset. Holiday relaxation can feed creativity and make you feel better too. Too stressed-out to know how to have some fun? Maybe one of these suggestions will give you an idea.

Have Fun With Krampus

Krampus is a scary creature from folklore who punishes kids who misbehave at Christmastime. But don’t be a Krampus because you’re stressed. Decrease your stress with a fun Krampus gift. This one is available on Amazon.


image of black t shirt with Krampus image and the words "You might not believe in Krampus but Krampus believes in you!"

Relax on St. Nicholas Day 

This day is a feast day honoring the saint. Take a few minutes to relax and reset. Print out one or two of these online coloring pages and use fat crayons or markers and color. Scribble if you need to get rid of some excess emotions. Don’t worry about keeping color inside or outside the lines. Focus on making it colorful and having fun.

If you are an artist,Trick yourself into a more child-like state of mind. Use your non-dominate hand. Close your eyes and pick a crayon. Use that color on the object least likely to be that color in reality. Have fun.

St Nicholas Center.

Get Coloring Pages.

A Meditative Bohdi Day

Buddhists celebrate this day of awakening or enlightenment. Even if you aren’t a Buddhist, take ten minutes and forget about your list of to-dos. Light a candle and meditate. Or take a stroll among the trees. 

Mitten Tree Day 

Image of a colorful, hand knit mitten ready to be hung on a mitten tree. Giving to others and counting our blessings can reduce holiday stress.

This holiday didn’t make it on the December Celebrations posts. But it reminds us to count our blessings. Buy a pair of colorful mittens or two or three and hang them on a tree for anyone who needs them. If you don’t have mittens to spare, volunteer a few hours to your local soup kitchen or food and clothes pantry.

Feast of Immaculate Conception

This one can be easy. Take the day off—at least refrain from unnecessary work and feast on your favorite foods.

National Cotton Candy Day

Image of a woman at a candy cotton machine, spinning pink cotton candy onto a paper stick. Even imagining taking a bite can reduce holiday stress.

Guess what? Go get some cotton candy and dig in. Get messy. Lick your fingers. Enjoy yourself.

Your Perfect Storm

Don’t let holiday stress create your perfect storm. Don’t let it cause burn out. Take time out to enjoy a little fun, relaxation, exercise. Creativity is a gift. And your time is a gift. Be generous with your gifts, but remember to nurture them as well.

How do you relieve holiday stress?

Image Credits:

Snowy Day Photo by Gary Ellis on Unsplash

Mitten by dooneling, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cotton Candy by Joseolgon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

5 Ways to Tend Your Creativity when the Season Changes

Mornings are crisp in the USA. The wind rattles leaves that are preparing to change color. The autumn sun shines brilliantly but with its heat is waning. At least these changes are all around Kansas and Missouri. Gardeners are pruning and weeding and preparing for winter. Walkers are wearing fall sweaters. Everywhere there are signs of the changing season. It may not be autumn in your area of the world, but you’re still experiencing a seasonal change in your weather. One thing you may not have thought about preparing for the seasonal changes is your creative life. When the weather changes, it’s also time to tend your creativity when the season changes.

Photograph of a field surrounded by trees turning from green to yellow, gold, and rust colors. It's autumn and time to tend your creativity for the season.

While a lot of creativity is instinctual and of the moment, you also need to be intentional if you aspire to more than a creative hobby. When the season changes is an excellent reminder to stop and look at the garden that is your creativity. Consider what needs pruning, what is thriving, and what needs extra sun or water for the next few months.

1. Review Your Year Plan

Did you make one? If not, no worries. Use the change in seasons to inspire you.

If you had a list of goals at the beginning of the year, review it. What have you accomplished?

With that in mind, how have your goals changed? What is it you want to spend your limited time, energy, and attention on during the next three months? What three activities will set you up for success?

2. List Goals for the Next Three Months

Your goals for the season can be new and completely unrelated to the plan you had at the beginning of the year.

What goals from your year plan will still move you toward your one big goal? What can you accomplish before the end of the year?

Are there goals that need to be pruned? Perhaps they need more time or you’ve changed your priorities. Be intentional about your choices. Tend your creativity and prepare for how the season affects you.

3. Consider How the Season Makes You Feel

Traditionally, Autumn is the time to prepare for a long winter. Consider how it makes you feel. Does it make you want to curl up with a warm blanket, sip hot cider, and read a book? Plan ways to recharge your energy: Light therapy, turn on music that gets your blood pumping, change up your exercise routine.

Or does the crisp air and beautiful autumn leaves recharge you? In that case, you may choose scented candles, candy corn snacks, and pumpkin flavored coffee to get you going. Maybe you’ll set up a workstation outside to enjoy the weather. Use the best of the season to energize you.

4. Change Your Morning and/or Evening Routine

Consider changing the time of day when you create. Do you create better when the sun is shining strong? Maybe instead of exercising before breakfast, you exercise at lunchtime. The one caveat is that what you tend your creativity and change what will allow you to be creative in this season.

5. Use Seasonal Activities to Inspire

Inspire your creativity with the change of season. Use fall excursions to inspire you: A walk in a wooded park or a visit to the pumpkin patch or an apple orchard. Make note of the colors, the smells, the feel of the wind, even the sounds. Use them in your creative activities.

Photograph of a basket spilling out ripe apples that are red and yellow. Just as orchards must be tended, so should you tend your creativity when the season changes.

Do you have a bucket list item that is related to the season? Make it happen. Keep a record—photographs, journaling, sketching, even a montage—whatever will call back your experience in all its sensory detail.

Create a seasonal sensory board. Use smells, colors, sounds, textures, fond memories, anything that means this season to you.

Change your room around to suit the season. This doesn’t mean decorate for the holidays necessarily. Scented candles or incense for the season. Change the lighting in your work area. Perhaps reposition your workspace closer to the window. Maybe get out a cozy sweater or change the flowers in the room. Maybe simply clean and declutter. Make way for the season to give fresh energy to your creativity.

When the Season Changes

We will tend our gardens, decorate our homes, prepare our vehicles, and make many other adjustments with the change of seasons. Yet many of us don’t think about adjusting our creative routines. Tend your creativity when the season changes and inspiration and productivity will flourish. For more tips on recharging your creativity, read “Five Secrets to Your Most Creative Self.”