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12 Paradoxical Reasons Why Creative Limitations Are Not Limiting

We all think we would enjoy being able to do as we please — especially when it comes to creativity. Imagine being able to create without any obstacles or boundaries. An unlimited budget would be great too! Or at least we think so.

We tend to think that the ideal creative situation would be one which has open-ended parameters and where our options are wide open with no limitations. Right?

In actuality, this scenario would stifle most creative people. Here’s why…

1. Too many options cause paralysis
Limits tell us where to start, when to stop, and perhaps most importantly, what to ignore. An overabundance of options is not always a good thing — without constraints, the possibilities are endless so how can one know where to begin and where to go?

2. A roadmap provides the clues that lead to solutions
Defined parameters act as guideposts that help channel creativity in a focused way as we journey towards an effective creative solution. Just as in sports, rules tell us how to play and give us the ground rules that establish where we play. With the right mindset — that space will allow plenty of great creative ideas to flourish.

12 Paradoxical Reasons Why Creative Limitations Are Not Limiting3. Give a creative person a box and they will find a way out of it
Not sure how that happens exactly, but it does. Every time. Even when the situation seems dire at the beginning — unreasonable demands and ridiculous deadlines — once the whining subsides and the work begins, it is simply amazing how often it transforms into a pleasurable, stimulating adventure in otherwise unchartered waters. Don’t make the sharks any bigger than they have to be — get moving because failure is not an option.

4. Challenges drive us to push and succeed
All sports and games are based on this simple premise — embrace the challenge and figure out how to be better than anyone else playing under the same rules and circumstances. See how much can still be done within those harsh restrictions. Victory awaits!

5. Forces us to think harder
Creative people can fall into a pattern of repeating themselves. Sometimes, this is what establishes one’s own unique style but other times, it is redundant and we risk becoming a cheap knockoff of ourselves. It can be a fine line sometimes.

6. Leads to less obvious solutions
Outside limitations force you outside of your comfort zone. You are literally pushed to discover new approaches you would never have found otherwise, and make connections you may have not thought of otherwise. As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

7. Let’s us discover new creative outlets
Finding new solutions often requires a different approach that leads to different tools and techniques — perhaps also requiring us to learn new skills. Who knows where all that could lead?

There is no box8. Creates a wealth of new ideas
Ideas spawn other ideas — now those ideas will be sparked from a different place so they can’t help but end up somewhere else.

9. We may be forced to use a new medium
Being forced to work in clay when all you’ve ever done is paint in oils; or writing a short story when all you’ve done are novels can unleash a creative cataclysm we may not have thought possible. This can also help overcome creative blocks.

10. Exposes us to new audiences
Different work will be appreciated by different people, potentially opening up new horizons and markets we may have never pursued before. The door is opened to serendipity.

11. New kinds of projects will be attainable
A different project in our repertoire could stimulate more work in that area. People will see another side to our work that will get their own ideas flowing… streaming right back to us and feeding more new work.

12. Stimulates our souls
Being forced to do something different from how we might have done it otherwise can be energizing and reinvigorating. If we find ourselves becoming somewhat complacent in our work — burnout from churning out the “same ol,’ same ol’” — this could be just what the doctor ordered.

I know the idea that limitations can produce more limitless, creative results seems counterintuitive — but it’s true and studies prove it. And let’s face it, when do we really have the “perfect” environment without constraints anyway? So — better to accept it and embrace those shackles that the world so often likes to bestow upon us. You will be happier for it and may just surprise yourself by creating something… ground-breakingly awesome.

Have you found that constraints and boundaries have helped you in your creative endeavors? Do you still think being able to do and create what you feel like works better? Let me know in the comments below.

This post first appeared on 12 Most, the best list site on the web.
Featured image courtesy of Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ licensed via Creative Commons.

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