Change Your Venue, Increase Your Creativity

Changing venues for you and your work is a critical part of discovery and creation. I imagine Neil Armstrong probably felt this in his bones. The next time you hit a rut with a piece of work, uproot it and yourself, it’ll give you a fresh perspective from that ‘somewhere else’. Heck, maybe pick up and move the entire office for a week and see what happens.

How I write

I usually start on paper. I jot down thoughts in my notebook. Just sketches, nothing long form. When the thought has materialized enough in my mind and notes, I move into IA Writer which I love because it’s void of functional distractions. I type pretty fast, so diving straight to a digital medium allows the product to keep up with my mind-babble. I usually stick to IA Writer for 2-3 days as I draft and refine. Then I hit somewhat of a wall. My creation isn’t complete, but I can no longer view the piece in a way that helps it evolve any further.
At that point, I reach for a second change of venue. I take my draft and stick it into wordpress, which we use for all of our blogs. I take an initial stab at formatting (adding headers, links, etc.) then push ‘preview’. This preview of the piece in production, with all of its design and brand/company context, allows me to experience the work for the first time as a real reader. I inevitably iterate, refining much of the gobbly-gook wonkery which is my writing. I stick with the wordpress editor through a public release of the work.

Now. My writing is not without its quirks. Without the change in venue, though, I don’t think I could get my work to exhibit the occasional and microscopic elements of intent and clarity that it does.

A change in venue in other aspects of creation

In visual and UI design

Insofar as UI design is concerned, the changes in venue typically entail a sketch becoming a clickable mock-up (we use Balsamiq). Mock-ups become either a PSD or go directly to HTML. With each change in venue, both the quantity and quality of perspective increase as we iterate towards an end solution.

How about with humans?

Speaking for the clan here, some people move around multiple times during the day (@jas0njames being a serial mover). We also have a “go ahead don’t come into the office” thing here, so others choose to work at home or from a coworking space a couple of times a week. Again, the change in venue inhibits creativity, be it via more focus or the act of traveling to another place in and of itself to aid in problem solving.

How about with an entire business?

Same thing. We’ve moved 4 times in 6 years. Each time, our company has evolved to fit the new space while the space is adapted to fit our own creation as a business. Changing venues is key to our business being what it is today. Oh man, though, do we love where we currently are in Chicago.

Don’t tear it up, move it out

The next time you’re stuck on a piece of work, consider whether you’ve given it the chance to progress through a change in venues. The fresh context will always help the work either stand on its own merits and evolve or it will help you realize that, indeed, the work really has no place else to go. Before you tear it up though, kick it out of its house.