How To Protect The Inner Sanctum Of Your Creativity


Inner Sanctum
image: tsmyther

Inside all of us, there lies an inner sanctum of creativity.

It’s the place we return to when we’re creating in full kinetic flow, blissfully lost in our work, oblivious to the concepts of time, space and the world around us.

I know you’ve been there.

It’s the place where you become deeply connected to something you can’t quite explain, something that feels bigger than what you experience in the rest of your day to day life, something that’s feels like nothing else you’ve ever known.

This inner sanctum of your creativity is somewhere you adore being, somewhere that helps you feel more engaged, more passionate, more alive, more you.

It’s a place you wish you visited far more often.

(Maybe it’s even a place you wish you could permanently move in to and leave the rest of the world behind.)

Then, there’s a second layer, that surrounds your inner sanctum.

This contains all the activities that support your creative life – all the related work that precedes, follows, and better enables you to create the art you need to create.

In this supporting layer, there are all the ways you seek and find new inspiration: absorbing the work of others, taking long walks, meditating, reading, discussions with other artists and so on. All the ways that you support and stimulate your new art works before you even begin them.

This part of the support system also includes buying and preparing materials. All the things that enable you to get to the point of creating. You could consider it as the pathway(s) to your inner sanctum.

Then, also in this supporting layer, there are all the ways and means that allow you to bring your work to the wider world. Editing, framing, collating, arranging, the final touches that bring your artwork to a point where you’re ready to share it.

Then there are the ways you do share it – letting people see, feel, touch and hear what you’ve created. Exhibiting, displaying, publishing, and so on. We can consider these all pathways from your inner sanctum.

Then, there’s a final, outer layer of your creative life. This contains everything else that’s present but not directly connected to your creating.

This sounds like a healthy, supportive model for a thriving artist. If we were to visualise it, it might look something like this:

The overall outer size of this system, this creative life of yours, cannot be altered. You only have a finite amount of time, energy and attention. Yes, there are many ways of making better use of your time, being more focused, and reducing destructive drains on your energy.

But overall, the total amount of time and energy you have to work with is fixed.

So whilst we can’t magically give ourselves another 24 hours each day to create, and survive on one hour’s sleep a night, we can expand both our inner sanctum of creativity, and the supporting layer surrounding it.

If these both grow, it means of course, because the overall circle is fixed, we have to lose a few things from our outer circle to make room, the layer that contains “everything else”.

Unfortunately, many of us find that exactly the opposite happens.

This outer “everything else” circle is the one that slowly and surreptitiously grows, and because it can’t expand outwards (we can’t make more time and energy suddenly appear) it has to expand inwards by forcing the other two layers to shrink.

In other words, the more you fill your life with all the everything else stuff that’s neither your creative work, or directly supportive of your creative work, the less time, energy and attention you’ll have to spend in your inner sanctum, creating what matters.

Your inner sanctum gets encroached upon, bullied, and squeezed smaller and smaller. So it might look more like this:

Maybe this picture is a more realistic snapshot of like how your (once) creative life feels these days?

I’m pretty sure it’s not how you want things to be.

So how can we turn this around? How can we instead expand the inner sanctum – that glorious place of carefree abundant creativity that means so much – and its supporting layer?

It begins with realising just how important creating is to you.

It’s the core of your creativity, the pure essence.

It’s the core of you.

It’s the centre of who you are.

It needs to be nurtured, stimulated and enjoyed, then it expands, and you become more creative, more happy, more you. Those around you gain too, as of course you’re feeling more positive, more creative, more energetic. And that can’t help but rub off on other people and inspire them too.

Before we can expand the inner sanctum, we have to work a little on the “everything else”.

We need to steal back time and space and energy from the everything else, so we can return to our inner sanctum more often.

Once we begin to do this, we see that actually we don’t need to expend so much on all these everything else activities that we thought (or were told) were so essential.

Once we spend more time again in that inner sanctum of creating it becomes so much easier to let go of some of those activities that we suddenly see in the light of how important they really are.

Not very important at all.

Then, naturally, your inner sanctum will expand.

Firstly because you’ll be reconnecting with how utterly essential it is to your life, and how much it enhances how you feel and everything else you do.

Secondly, because it will give you a different perspective on some of those everything else activities, like checking email every ten minutes, cleaning shelves that were cleaned just yesterday, rearranging your art supplies for the seventh time today, spending time and money to buy stuff you don’t actually need, trying to keep up socially with people who you really have little interest in, the list goes on…

But first, you must begin.

You must protect your inner sanctum of your creativity by creating more of those pathways to and from it, and by visiting it and spending undistracted time there, more and more often.

There’s no other way to be the happy, creative person you know you can be.

When you do begin, it’s all you need to do. “Everything else” will start to fall into its rightful place, even if it’s a place no longer in your life.


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3 thoughts on “How To Protect The Inner Sanctum Of Your Creativity”

  1. Dan,

    “Inner sanctum”. That’s a fantastic way of describing that essence; that innate seed that’s within all of us just waiting to be tended to and nurtured.

    I love the visuals — they bring it home in a big way. It resonates well with the lack of bandwidth I’ve been feeling of late (see:

    Can you imagine what the world would be like if the vast majority of us were able to collectively tap that inner sanctum with selfless zeal?

    Hope all is well with you.



  2. Great post, thanks! I have just spent a month focusing on being creative (after not doing any art for about 16 years!) and I really did have to consciously put “everything else” aside. There always seemed a reason not to do do some art, take photos, do some writing or go look at some art but I ignore the reasons and it was amazing! I loved getting creative again, like you said when you are doing art you really do feel engaged, passionate and alive!


    1. Thanks Louise, glad you enjoyed. Yes, the reasons, or excuses, for not commit even a little time each day to create are always queuing by the dozen.

      Well done for committing to creating and being rewarded with those kinds of positive feelings again. 🙂


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