How do you get into a creative zone, where everything seems possible, new possibilities suggest themselves, and the ideas come thick and fast? In my case I go to a specific place in the real world: a pub in north London called The Lansdowne. If you’ve visited me in London, I may well have taken you there. It’s in the lovely leafy neighbourhood of Primrose Hill, where we used to live in the 1990s when I was training as a doctor. Back then it was our local pub, and we even had our wedding reception there. It was one of London’s first and best gastropubs, where the food is even more important than the drink. The menu is European with a Middle Eastern twist (rule of thumb: if there’s anything with harissa, order that), and they make excellent pizza too. Oh, and the wine list is brilliant. Even though it’s not our local any more, we still consider it our local, and go several times a year.
Anyway, back to the creativity. I’m not quite sure what it is about The Lansdowne, but over the years I’ve noticed that when I’m sitting at one of its tables I suddenly seem to have lots of ideas. Drinking a glass or two of fizz, or rosé, probably helps. I think the abundant natural light, which comes streaming in through the windows, plays a part too; everything seems possible in the sunshine, and we always sit by the window so I can take pictures. And my husband tells me that a certain amount of background noise, but not too much, is also said to make people more creative (which is why coffeehouses are such hotbeds of innovation).
But all this is justification after the fact. I realised a few years ago that I always ended up writing down lots of ideas for photography projects, posts and other activities when we were having lunch at The Lansdowne, so now I take a notebook for when inspiration strikes. And sometimes I go a step further: when I feel in the need of inspiration, off to The Lansdowne we go. I suspect it’s a bit of a placebo effect, now: because I expect to have good ideas when I’m there, the pressure comes off, I feel less constrained, and the ideas start to flow. Along with the wine!
As far as I can tell, the formula for creativity is that there is no formula. Everyone has different things they do that put them in a receptive, idea-generating mood. The key is find out what works for you, and then stick to that, and refine it. When you find that wellspring of creativity, and work out how to navigate to it reliably, you can go back to it whenever you need. In my case, that involves going to a wonderful pub in north London, sitting down at one of its distressed-wood tables, and letting the ideas come to me.
Where’s your creative zone, and how do you get to it? Tell us in the comments.