This afternoon I spent a few hours in a café at my local art gallery working on my new novel.
I got quite a bit done and it was lovely to immerse myself in the project after a busy few weeks.
But it reminded me of something too.
That one of the best ways I’ve found to get creatively inspired is to be out alone in public.
Strange as it might sound, for me being out and about by myself gives a feeling almost akin to sensory deprivation, while also being incredibly stimulating.
While you might think that sounds illogical, hear me out.
When you’re out in the world alone, you notice more. There’s no one to chat with so it’s easy to listen in to other people’s conversations or absorb the details around you. You become hyper aware of the things happening around you and in busy places, you can become conscious of the fact that you’re alone.
But you reach a point when there’s so much to focus on that your attention begins to draw inwards.
It’s sitting alone on the train for a long journey, staring out the window with nothing but your thoughts to occupy you. It’s spending the afternoon in a café with your headphones and a notebook. It’s wandering through a strange city where no one knows you and you can do anything you like.
After a while, there’s nothing to distract you and there’s nothing to do, so your own mind becomes a place you can explore in more depth than you normally would.
Working at home doesn’t have the same effect.
There’s the distraction of the television, or spending time with loved ones. There’s that book you’ve been enjoying, or some housework that’s needling at you, or a family member who needs something. It’s too comfortable. There are too many responsibilities.
But being out alone in public can be uncomfortable.
You feel exposed and conscious of other people’s attention. So you shift that focus to your work and you get shit done.
It’s an amazing feeling because you delve deep into your own self and your own imagination without even realising. You focus on what matters and become the best version of yourself.