The “Creative Zone” is a wonderful place to be, no matter where you find it: in a coffee shop, at your desk, or perhaps on your living room floor. You feel it when you give yourself over fully to a project. When you’re in the Zone, you’re intensely focused, actively solving problems, and enjoying what you’re making. Sometimes, though, distractions or inspiration make it tough to find the “Zone”. Here are the six ways to set yourself up for success:
1. Give Yourself a Reason to Create
First, decide on the occasion for your Creative Zone session. For example, are you adding to your sketchbook with a goal of filling it up? Are you practicing calligraphy to hone your skills so you can make a specific project? Or, are you making a gift for someone else — like a thank you card or a family tree?
2. Have Specific Inspiration in Mind
Once you have a reason to create, find inspiration for your project. If you’re making mail art for someone who you know loves tea, for example, center your project around a tea theme. I find that my personal projects (usually sketchbook pages) are the projects that are the toughest to find inspiration for, which is why I keep a list of themes handy.
The TPK blog basically exists to help you with this Creative Zone step. Take advantage of the blog to learn new techniques, try out challenging tutorials, and just get excited about making pretty things in general.
3. Set Aside Time to Be in the Creative Zone
Time constraints mean that we don’t spend as much time being creative as we’d like. That said, it’s important for your mental health to set aside time to let your mind play! So, allocate time for that. Give yourself X amount of minutes to work on your project, and set a timer to ensure that you don’t go over (if going over will be a problem).
In some seasons of life, setting aside time to create will be easy. In other seasons, like early parenthood, it’s fairly difficult and involves relying on others to help you get that time. (When my toddler was an infant, I used to ask my husband to take him out on walks for at least 30 minutes to give me time to doodle. Having that half hour to decompress made me a better, more patient parent!)
4. Set the Mood for the Creative Zone
First and foremost, make sure that you have a clear workspace. A little bit of creative chaos is fine, but I find that a nice chunk of clear table real estate makes it easier to focus! Second, listen to something if that’s what you like to do. A lot of people enjoy listening to music or podcasts as they create. I, personally, love listening to audiobooks or — if I’m working on a repetitive project — putting on a Netflix show.
If you want to make your practice session extra special, make yourself a cup of tea or a lemonade. Gather up some (non-messy) snacks, and maybe light a candle if you’re feeling extra indulgent. The point is to set up an environment that feels right — and inspiring — to you.
5. Eliminate Distractions
One of the best ways to get into the Creative Zone is to allow yourself to focus entirely on what you’re making. While some distractions can be delightfully supplemental, like an audiobook, others will take away from your experience. If there’s anything that will detract from the focus of your creation session, set it aside for the duration of the session.
For me, eliminating distractions involves putting my phone on silent. I also make some sort of childcare arrangement (whether that means letting my toddler watch Raya and the Last Dragon for the millionth time or having him hang out with his dad for a bit).
6. Make Sure You Don’t Have to Stand Up
There’s nothing that interrupts a creative session like having to get up. So, do everything you can to prevent having to stop what you’re working on to move around. For example, it’s a good idea to get yourself a cup of water for drinking before sitting down to create. Make sure all of your creation supplies are handy, and resolve to ignore household tasks that need (eventual) attention, like putting clothes in the dryer.
The goal is to get into a flow and be totally immersed in what you’re doing. It’s tough to maintain a flow if you’re having to get up every few minutes to grab yourself water or do a chore. (That said, for Creative Zone sessions that last longer than one hour, a break or two is a good idea to keep you inspired and comfortable.)
The Creative Zone will look different for everyone, but the calm and happy feeling that it brings is universal. While I suspect you instinctively already knew how to get into the Zone, I hope that this post helps you to become more conscientious for your next Zone session. Happy creating!