Restrict Your Creativity to Unleash It

Restrict Your Creativity to Unleash It

“Just be creative.” Those words signal impending doom. Once uttered, the curse of “just be creative” removes all trace of creativity in my head – just like magic.

If the truth be told, I hate it when people ask me to “just be creative”. Those three words nearly guarantee that I’ll spend hours staring at the screen, racking my brains for something brilliant and agonizing that I’m coming up empty.

Trying to “just be creative” is like trying to find gold. You can squat in the cold water of the creek for hours, scooping up mud in a metal pan and swirling it around in the hopes of spotting one single, tiny grain of yellow.

For a few years now, I’ve believed that my struggles with creativity meant that I wasn’t a great thinker or a very good writer. I blamed myself for not having some innate magical spark that let me instantly grasp what no one had thought of before.

I was expected to be creative. I was supposed to be creative. But I can count on one hand the number of posts I’ve written that I think are truly good enough to hit the mark.

I’m not alone with this issue, either. Google keywords like “finding inspiration” or “how to be creative” and you get millions of returns.

I even asked people for ideas. “Give me a topic,” I’d demand. “Something about writing.” Not surprisingly, people came up blank, just like me.

I recently realized that I was asking for the wrong thing. I didn’t want ideas; I wanted restrictions. When I had restrictions and a box to work within, creativity came easily. The more restrictions I had, the more angles I could think of.

I was thinking my way out of the box. And I was creative.

What about you? Do you like restrictions when facing a creative task or do you prefer full creative freedom? Which situation helps you unleash your mind the most?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.