I started my problogging career as a corporate problogger, meaning I blogged mostly in the context of the company I worked for. Incidentally, I was also part of the company’s team that developed a blogging application, so it was very apt for an insider to blog about the product. I was the blogging evangelist.
Back then, all the essential tools were company-provided, including the computers, free coffee, and yes, the window with the view. And I also got to see all sorts of stuff in my daily commute to and from work. This stimulus was very much helpful, especially in my coming up with ideas for what to write about.
When I started problogging fulltime–on my own and working for the blog networks–I mostly stayed at home. I imagined I would be able to get more creative, since I controlled my time and I was no longer constrained to work in a fixed environment. The office window with a view was cool, but being at one place almost everyday was very stifling to creativity. This was one reason I quit my day job.
I realized, however, that staying at home everyday proved to be as stifling to creativity as well. So at times I went out to cafÃ©s, parks and malls to write to experience the outdoors for a change. It worked quite well–again, the stimulus provided to be helpful in gearing my mind towards writing interesting stuff (stuff that gets people’s nod, judging from how some of my articles had been DUGG to front page). Still, I realized I can’t just go out all the time. There had to be a sense of regularity and familiarity. There had to be that sweet spot wherein I would feel most energized and excited. And considering that I worked best at nights up to the wee hours of the morning, I couldn’t just wander around at will.
Probably the best thing I did recently was move my family out from our previous apartment to a relatively bigger place. The old place was getting cramped, and I could already feel the strain of not having a creative environment to work in. This time I have a room all to myself as my home-office, which I try to keep free from distractions and the un-creative stuff. Okay, the kids sometimes watch DVDs and play on the computers (yes, several of them here, all online, all energy-consuming), but I still get to have a space of my own. And having this space that I can control and derive inspiration from is essential in creativity.
On Creating Passionate Users, Kathy Sierra shares her thoughts on why creative environments are essential.
The thing is, we all expect and understand why designers have–and need–creative work spaces, yet we somehow think programmers (or just about any other role that’s not considered one of the “creatives”) don’t. We act as if programmers don’t care about their environment. But you don’t need to know an Eames from an Eero to appreciate the impact your environment has on your energy, creativity, productivity, and happiness.
… I started working from home. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t so much the other people that were missing, it was the stimulating work environment. I tried coffee shops and considered shared office spaces where other self-employed or work-from-home people can have some of the benefits of an office, but I actually prefer to work alone. It’s not the people I miss… it’s being in an environment that makes me feel creative and energetic. I want a space that matches my enthusiasm.
It’s all about finding your flow. It’s about getting in the zone. Now this is subjective. Whether you prefer to get yourself a vintage trailer, sharpen a dozen pencils before writing (on paper, that is!), or walk half a mile up to on your small house on a hill everyday to write, it’s ultimately your creative environment and it’s up to you to decide what works.
Blogging is no different from writing a book, in terms of the creativity and attention needed. If you want to be a successful blogger–especially if you derive income from your writing–then your environment matters.