How Limitations Can Improve Creativity



Have you watched Limitless? Wouldn’t that be awesome if it was for real? You could do, learn, remember everything all the time? AWESOME. Or… Would it?

Lately I’ve noticed that many creatives fall victim of gear manufacturers. In almost every domain of modern arts people become obsessed with the tools rather than with their craft. Just look at all the gear forums around the web, endless arguments about which latest gadget is better, even if the differences are negligible. Not enough that people get obsessed with gear, they also waste their time on defending it (as they need to defend their choices) by spending hours on such forums and writing oh so lengthy posts.

I must say, it is very often entertaining reading these little arguments and I have a right laugh at it, but after a while i feel a bit sad about it. Poor victims of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). If you spend a bit of time on these forums, there is only one outcome. You will find yourself feeling that what you already own is not up to the par with latest technology. You will find that you simply cannot create anything of value with that 2 year old equipment of yours. I mean, 2 years, it is ancient history, isn’t it?. It is junk by now. Throw it away. Get that new thing. Just think about it, how much inspiration will it bring to your work? These new shiny buttons and knobs? The new interface? Oh my days… “If I only had that new thing, oh my, I would spend hours working on it.”. You can picture it already, can’t you?

Another scenario is when you actually need to replace a broken piece of gear, like a camera for instance. Had it for few years, broke down, you have nothing to take photographs with. You head out to the World Wide Wasteland to look for reviews and comparisons of what is currently available on the market. What you will find is that it is no point of buying something currently available as one of the major manufacturers will release new camera in the next few months. You should wait. It has got 2 more megapixels and all the absolute latest technology. You should wait. So you are stuck not improving on your craft for few months, which is what you should be doing, and waiting instead. Arghhh, stop it, will you? “It is all bullshit folks, and it’s bad for ya” – George Carlin.

You know what? Gear is usually uninspiring, especially after you had it for, let’s say two weeks. It becomes a part of the set-up and you don’t see it as new anymore. Gathering equipment is even worse. You become overwhelmed. You will find yourself confused as of to which piece to use now. I see that especially with photographers. They buy all the lenses and cameras they can afford and then drag it everywhere in their huge and heavy bags. When the photo opportunity comes, they are either too tired from carrying it or find themselves changing the lens, or fiddling with their new camera’s settings as they don’t know it yet. Boom. Opportunity gone. Same goes with music producers. While working on a track you get an idea, great idea. Then you lost in the menu for while, or cannot decide which plugin to use as you have so many. Boom. Idea gone.

I urge you not to go down this road. We are missing out on so many good ideas as creatives and the audience is missing out on beautiful art because artists are spending time reading gear forums while Bieber is in the studio recording new album…

Want to be creative and move forward with your craft? Limit yourself. For a day. Then for a week. Then for a year. Trust me, it is worth it. It will not be wasted time. Here is some ideas for you:

Photographer? Spend a week with only one focal length. Go out and shoot every day for an hour. Leave everything else at home. You will be surprised how liberating it will be. I can tell you that I have done that myself and I cannot exaggerate how well it improved my composition skills (image on this post for example, no zoom lenses used, all I had was a 35mm).

Song writer? Write one song per day for a week. Give yourself only one hour for that. Use the same key for the week. Seven songs in A minor for instance. Do your best but go for quantity as well.

Poet? – Write for an hour each day about the same subject. Different poem though. Seven poems on the same subject.

Get the idea, right? It is very simple. If you like the results after a week, do something similar for a month. Spend each month in only one key. Spend one year. After that time you will know that key and possibilities within it like no one else. Answer yourself this: Is it better to be an expert in one particular thing or know a little bit about everything?

Do it. Stop visiting the forums and work instead. Start today. Read this.

Stay Creative!

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