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A Cup of Creativi-tea: Give Me My Space

By Terri Wilson, Published on May 20, 2006
Terri Wilson is a solo librarian at the law firm of Underwood, Wilson, Berry, Stein, and Johnson, PC in Amarillo, Texas. She has a BFA in Theatre from Eastern New Mexico University, an MFA in Theatre from Texas Tech University, and an MS in Library & Information Science from the University of North Texas. Prior to becoming a law librarian, Terri was a paraprofessional for six years in the reference department of the University Library at Texas Tech. And prior to that, she explored a cornucopia of employment positions while a laboring as a struggling actor (emphasis on the struggling part). Terri has recently started a blog for creative ideas for librarians.

Once you have decided that you are going to make more time for creative endeavors, your first project should be creating a physical space where you can foster your newfound creativity. Both in the home and at the office, a space that you can designate as your think tank or play room can go a long way in encouraging you to expand your mind.

At home, many people already have these areas. The sewing room, the workshop, maybe even a full-blown art studio. But even if you can't give up an entire room to waxing poetic, you can find a corner somewhere to create your very own Artistic Garden of Eden. Do you have one of those junk rooms? You know the one. It was going to be a guest room, but all of your unpacked boxes from your last move are still sitting in there. Free up a corner and put in a small table that is high enough for you to sit and work. Decorate it with your favorite trinkets--gemstones, pressed leaves, whatever strikes your fancy. Take last night's empty can of green beans, wash it out, and put it on your desk loaded with pens, pencils, brushes, crayons. How about a vase of fresh flowers from the supermarket? And a radio, CD player, or MP3 player so you can listen to your favorite inspirational music.

Or if your creativity is messier, how about staking a claim to a corner of your garage? Pick up some inexpensive folding screens at a garage sale or your local discount store to keep paint and sawdust away from your car. Then bring in easels or a woodworking table and get as messy as your inner child wants to get. This scenario can also work in a backyard storage building, if you have enough ventilation, or even on the patio.

Redecorating can be a little more difficult at work, particularly if your workplace has stringent rules about not using nails, tacks, or tape in your cubicle or on your walls. But you can create some work-arounds with cork boards or dry erase boards on easels or leaned up against walls, printers, or in-boxes. Use these boards to put up paintings, photography, even pages from magazines or graphics printed from the web. Just as with your home space, put collectibles and trinkets on your desk and shelves, if you have them. How about a relaxing water fountain or a miniature Zen garden? Personally, I have several toys in my office that brighten up the day for me, and my Silly Putty® is an oft-used thinking tool whenever I'm pondering an article for my library newsletter or new design for a presentation.

Are you the manager of your library? Well, how about taking this idea up a notch and making a space for all of your employees? "Some companies have established 'creative thinking spaces,' replete with non-work-related stimuli, comfortable furniture and numerous flipcharts for capturing ideas" (Govendo, 2001). That magnetic poetry on the refrigerator in the break room has helped more than one brain break through the mental doldrums.

However you manage to do it, just make sure that you surround yourself with fun, beautiful, wacky, or inspiring stimuli. It's food for the creative part of your brain, and you'll soon find yourself with a feast of ideas from your imagination.

Works Cited

Govendo, Jeffrey A. (2001). Put employees' creativity to work, and see your firm grow. Boston Business Journal, 21(11), 36.