When you think of the creative process, you probably think of daydreaming, open-ended thinking and no constraints. These are all part of creativity, but alone they can be chaotic and unproductive. We actually need constraints and boundaries for our creativity to truly flourish. Sam talked about this in 5 Bad Habits That Ruin Your Creativity And Damage Success. Like productivity, boundaries are an unexpected necessity in building a strong creative practice.
Personally, I didn’t realize until a few years ago how much I needed boundaries in order to flush out my creative ideas. I used to be the girl who was anti-systems, organization and structure. I liked to have open days where I could just play and explore, and while those days are still very crucial, they can’t make up most of your time. Turning creativity into an actual career takes discipline and constraint. Not only for the ideas themselves, but for everything that surrounds you throughout your day. Let’s break it down:
Ideas Need Limitations
Some of the very best creatives, surprisingly, will talk about how they work best under constraint. A completely open-ended project is not really a creative’s dream. Creative people tend to already have a knack for seeing all the opportunities and it can become overwhelming and anxiety-producing for them to have to create something magical without any finite direction or timeline. Someone who is usually filled with too many ideas becomes paralyzed and can’t think of any way to propel forward. Giving your ideas a timeline, budget, scope, etc., will not only help you stay on-track, but it allows for the best ideas to come to the surface.
We’ve talked a lot about creating a bliss station recently, and that is because having a dedicated space for inspiration and creativity is extremely helpful. In order to have a true bliss station, you need to set boundaries about what is allowed into it. Do you have music or quiet? Is technology banned? Are there times during the day where you work best in there? Coming up with a list of what you need to restrict in your little creative burrow is going to help you stay inspired and focused.
Personally, I didn’t realize until a few years ago how much I needed boundaries in order to flush out my creative ideas.
Your daily rituals that boost creativity are also part of your boundaries. You know what works for you. Don’t allow pressure from external sources mess with your rituals. Maybe that morning coffee with the newspaper or an afternoon walk are a very important step in your process. Make sure to hold onto that dearly and recognize that it’s just as important to your work as answering that pressing email. Rituals and routines help support your creative energy.
I feel like we talk about this in every creativity article, but technology is not always creativity’s friend. We all use it, need it, and it can really be amazing for our art, but it’s also a place of distractions, comparison and procrastination. In order for you to make great creative work, you will need to set boundaries around how and when you will use technology. Maybe it’s not first thing in the morning and right before bed. Try to batch emails and stop checking them at a certain time of day. Maybe you turn off all alerts on your devices. Whatever it is, boundaries on your tech use will help you make time for your best work!
Do you have boundaries in place for your creative process? If not, think about how you can set boundaries around your creative space, time and energy.
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