Are You An Inspiration Junkie?
The internet is full of inspiring images of creative spaces. But, what does our obsession with them say about our own creativity?
Not a day seems to go by that I don’t see a picture, usually on social media, of some artist/writer/creative’s workplace. I decided to ask on Twitter what the trend was about & one friend replied,
@fernandogros productivity porn. It's an excuse to procrastinate
— Damian Maclennan (@DamianM) July 31, 2014
The Obsession With Creative Workplaces
Being curious about where the creators we admire toiled makes sense. Our lived spaces, where we work, where we eat, where we socialise are a kind of architectural biography, reflecting many choices we make over time.
I remember visiting Robert Frost’s cabin (Homer Noble Farm) in Ripton Vermont. It was a very basic wooden house, not much more than a shed really. I stood for quite some time and looked at the armchair where Frost used to sit & write his poems. It was challenging experience. I remember thinking “really, is this it?”
Yes, sometimes that’s all it is. Just sit down and write the damn poem!
Inspiration Or Procrastination?
Was visiting Frost’s cabin inspirational? I’m not sure. I didn’t suddenly start writing more often or more effectively as a result. I knew more about the poet and maybe more about how little a poet really needs in order to do their work. But, that is information, not inspiration.
Accumulating information and insights is useful and important, but it isn’t enough to trigger the thing inside us that makes us get to work. Acquiring more information is not the same as finding inspiration.
Or, to put it another way, it’s a great, potentially addictive tool, for procrastination.
I made the photo at the top of this article a few days ago in the Australian outback. I could have made a photo of my tripod, sitting in a field, on a freezing cold night. But, I’m not really sure how inspiring or helpful that would be.
What drove me to visit Frost’s cabin wasn’t the architecture, or a curiosity about famous arm chairs, it was his poetry. It was the work that inspired me.
I didn’t take up guitar because of the studios or lounge rooms where Hendrix, Prince & Van Halen recorded or wrote – it was because of the songs. I didn’t take up photography because of the darkrooms or Adams, Newton or Beaton, it was because of the photos.
“Inspiration comes of working every day.”
Where we work is not as important as the work we make. Unless we create some bizarre architectural folly, we are unlikely to be remembered for the space where we worked.
Next time you find yourself staring craving inspiration and feeding that hunger by staring at a picture of someone else’s workspace it might well be time to ask yourself whether you really should be spending more time in your own workspace.