An offhand comment by one of my students reminded me of an essay I had read years ago, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. My student was talking about a room she wanted to fix up in her home, which currently houses a mishmash of old furniture and boxes. She hoped to eventually use the space to work, to enjoy family, and maybe, just maybe, start working on a novel like she had always meant to. About women in literature, Woolf wrote, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Woolf’s “room” is a metaphor, standing in for financial independence, education, and relative freedom, that allows a woman the “luxury” of realizing her creative ambitions.
Women have come a long ways since 1929 when Woolf’s essay was first published. Many of us have achieved educational milestones and gained financial independence at levels unimaginable in Woolf’s times. But we often feel unfulfilled and unmoored.
Happiness scientists and spiritual leaders generally agree that human beings are at our best when we are creating. When we write novels, sew, or build new businesses, we tap into some force larger than ourselves; we are on the receiving end of divine inspiration.
Even if we intuit this (how many of us have creative projects that we’ve been meaning to get to forever?), our other obligations and duties conspire to keep us from diving into our creative pursuits. What if we take Woolf’s metaphor and turn it into a concrete reality? What if we carve out space for our creative work, for ourselves? Whether it’s a room, a corner, or a desk, having a dedicated space that is set up to optimize creative flow can make the difference between putting off that novel indefinitely or spending an hour on it now.
I believe good design is not just beautiful to the eyes, but is beautiful to the creative soul as well. We manifest in our environment who we are and who we hope to become in the future. If we design into our space a nook of our own, our odds of blossoming into our creative selves go up considerably.
So look around you and claim that underused corner or guest bedroom. Spend a weekend outfitting the space with all the tools of your creative trade. Make it beautiful as well as functional so that you want to be there. And then let your creative juices flow.