How Limitations Help Us Create

Creative Limitations

There are a lot of persuasive theories about why many artists create their best work before they become famous. It could be a sense of “hunger” or exuberant naivety or other intangibles that don’t exist after becoming rich and famous. But it could also be because when you first start out you are limited in many ways. And this, honestly, is a good thing.

The most obvious limitations, of course, are time and money. When you are struggling for a spare minute or need to focus most of your time on things that actually pay bills, you can’t risk hours every day to examine and revise your work.

Another limitation is that you haven’t been told you’re incredible yet. While there may come a time where everything you deliver to a hungry populace is praised and becomes a commercial triumph, we are right now pushed back by people who don’t necessarily think we’re that great or, even worse, don’t even know we exist.

And one huge hurdle when trying to create something is our feeling that we are constrained by what’s around us. Either we don’t have all the necessities to create what we see in our head or lack the skills to pull it off perfectly.

All of these limitations, though, should be looked at as huge advantages for the creative mind.

When you have to struggle to find precious free moments, then you’re fueled by those fiery bursts of inspiration that have been building all day. When you haven’t been given that admiration from people then you don’t start resting on your laurels — you continue to work as hard as possible to make sure that your name is going on the very best work you can do.

And when you don’t have everything at your disposal, when you can’t find the exact way to create what’s in your head, then the project starts becoming what it needs to be: real. You stop working on this unattainable idea and actually begin to find practical ways to bring your vision into the world.

Be thankful for your limits and how they help you figure out what is important and what can be put aside. Universal praise, complete artistic freedom and no worries about money or time are what we think we want, but when it comes to creating new and exciting things, these are the greatest limitations of all.


Shane Mehling FOLLOW >

Shane Mehling is a freelance writer and editor who plays in noiserock bands.