Creative Spaces

Creative spaces are a very personal thing. It is where worlds are created and the abstract becomes something tangible. It can be the kitchen table or an entire room devoted to your craft. Here are a few things I prefer for my creative space:

• A large desk 
This gives me space to spread out papers and still have room for my keyboard and mouse.

• A book shelf
I enjoy having books at my fingertips and bookshelves are one of the most aesthetically pleasing ways to do this.

• Blank paper
I always go back and forth on whether to have lined paper or completely blank. I have found that I much prefer the blank. I like to draw and work organically and feel limited when I use lined paper.

• A Nerf gun
This is mainly to deter any interruptions and cats. 

• A computer
Writing and video editing requires me to use a desktop for most of my work. I currently work with four monitors.

• Sharp pointy objects
I have always liked knives and swords. My wife and I took a German longsword class and we both enjoyed it immensely. 

What does your creative space look like? What items do you find necessary?

How I became a writer

My day started innocently enough. It was a November afternoon and I had been reasonably content after a wonderful lunch. There I was sitting at my desk working when my life was changed forever. My wife walked into our office and told me one of our co-workers was writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month. This statement would have been a friendly conversation starter for most people, something to talk about and then forget, but not for me. The conversation had reignited a spark in the back of my mind. My voice rose as I asked, "National Novel Writing Month?"

She explained the fascinating rules of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I glanced at the calendar on the wall, November 5th. I decided to do it. Who needed silly things like sleep or free time. I was going to write the novel that had been floating around in my head. The novel that was banging on the artificial cell I had built to keep it contained. I unlocked the cell and handed the novel the keys. I had become a writer.

The next day, I found my co-worker who had indirectly changed my life. I told her I had joined the challenge and was writing a novel as well. When I told her my word count, her eyes widened. She nodded politely and we went our separate ways.

We posted our word counts online which fueled the informal competition. It was fun. It was social. It was accountability.

I find myself carrying a notebook everywhere, having a greater love of coffee, and reading more books. This writing thing is not without a learning curve. I am reading, studying, and sweating to improve my writing. It is hard, but I am loving it.

Writing was a passion I ignored because it was not entirely socially acceptable, but with a nudge from NaNoWriMo I have embraced it.

What would you do if no one judged your choices?

Coffee shop passion

How I love coffee shops. I love the aroma that overloads my senses when the doors open. I love every step inside that brings me closer to happiness and bliss. I happily pay the price of the coffee knowing it will ensure hours of productivity in isolation while still being around people. Coffee shops have become my happy place. I have been doing some traveling lately and have visited several coffee shops around the country. Some of my favorite shops are the small, locally owned, hole-in-the-wall type of places that have atmosphere and good service. There are times, though, I have been disappointed by lack luster service and the atmosphere of a hospital waiting room. So with all of my coffee shop hopping, I wanted to share several things that I look for when evaluating a coffee shop.

Required coffee shop features:

  • Electrical outlets: This is one of the most important things for me. A coffee shop can be beautiful, but if there aren't any outlets I can't get work done. (Technology and all that.) If I am there to read a book it is acceptable, but I still get the urge to bring extension cords.
  • Coffee: This should be freshly ground and not bitter.
  • Mugs: I appreciate real mugs instead of the paper cups, especially large ones with character and funny sayings, pictures, or quotes.
  • Music: The music is typically not much of an issue for me, but it should be background noise, not blaring out of the speakers like an emergency announcement. The only exception is live music. I love live music.
  • Atmosphere: The coffee shop must be a coffee shop first and foremost. None of this coffee shop pizzeria business.

To give you an idea of what I look for, I took pictures of one of my favorite coffee shops of all time, the Broad River Coffee Company. I have to apologize up front that these were taken with my phone.

I love the table cubicles on the left and the balcony with three tables in the back. I have spent a lot of time in both places.

This is the view from the balcony. I would sit at one of the three tables while doing homework and people watch.

What do you look for in a coffee shop? Where are you most productive?

Renewed perspective on the world around me

Have you ever gone on a vacation that took your mind off everything? I will be the first to admit, I often get caught up in my thoughts and routine. Recently, my wife and I had the opportunity to attend a friend's wedding that completely pulled me out of my world. We drove 12 hours to North Carolina. We spent the weekend hanging out with friends and visiting our alma mater. The culmination of the weekend was our friend's wedding. She walked down the aisle toward her future husband in a beautiful white dress, and it struck me how much I did not know about them. I had only met the groom in passing several years ago and it had been a while since I had seen the bride. I didn't know their story, but I wanted to. I was seeing just a small scene in the narrative of their life and it intrigued me.

This wedding reminded me that I am not the center of my universe. Everyone's life and story is running parallel to everyone else's. It is a shocking thought to realize that every person we pass on the road, every person we make eye contact with has their own problems, questions, passions, and stories.

The weekend forced me out of my own head, away from the everyday grind, and showed me a scene in a story outside of my own. Everyone has a story and I need to be careful not to believe mine is the only one that matters.

What pulls you out of your self focused universe?