We all love being on vacation because it frees up leisurely time and emotional space. However, it can also limit creativity, because we are on a different schedules, and we do not have our usual creative materials and tools. What's helpful to remember is that limitations (of any kind) can actually enhance creativity.
I have been on vacation for eight days now and have one more week to go. Clearly when I am away I can't bring my studio with me that has all of the equipment I need to do what I love. My usual equipment -- a high-powered computer, and a 24 inch wide printer -- can be very seductive.
I have discovered, however, there is something to be said for forcing ourselves to create with minimal space and equipment. Sometimes when we have limited possibilities, (physically, emotionally, or mentally) we must think out of the proverbial box, thus stretching our imagination.
Imagine for just a moment that you had nothing at your fingertips except a number two pencil and a sketchpad, or an iPhone. What would you do? How would you express your creativity?
Inspiration can come from the most common things.
One way I turn a limitation into an asset is where I decide to walk. I have now walked the same mile on the same beach a hundred times and taken many photographs. Each time I wonder if there could be anything new to see. Yet, inevitably there is so much to see that during the first week here I took one thousand photographs. This time what inspired me were the amazing cloud formations.
There is always something new available to inspire us.
We can choose our limitations.
According to John Spencer, we don't have to think outside of the box, we must go deeper into the box. During my vacation I defined the beach as my box. Granted that's a pretty big box. But by walking twice a day, with my camera, and trekking back and forth along the same mile, I was forced to stretch my vision -- inside that proverbial box.
Even though I chose to photograph the same beach, I could have decided to sit on the beach and engage in guided imagery, sketching or stream-of consciousness writing. Or, instead of using my fancy camera, I could have limited myself to my iPhone.
When it comes to creativity there are only perceived limitations.
However, there is one kind of limitation that hinders. The Swiss psychologist Bertrand Piccard said it well, "People put limitations on their creativity, believing they have to rely on what they know and what they have done." Sometimes we limit ourselves to what is safe and what we have tried before. It's great to stay inside the proverbial box we have built for ourselves, if we think we can continue to be creative within that box. There are times, however, when we have taken something as far as we can. Picasso knew that he had developed his blue period of paintings as far as he could, so began creating his rose period. (See examples below.)
Sometimes when I feel creatively stuck with a painting, it helps to get some distance by changing my form of creative expression to writing. The caveat is, we need to be honest with ourselves about why we are moving on to a new form of expression with its new limitations, or why we are staying put. There is no right or wrong about this -- only what is true for each of us
It might be fun to try a few exercises with limitations.
v Using cheap paint, be like Picasso and use variations of a single color to make a painting (realistic or abstract).
v Write at least one-half page filled with stream-of-consciousness writing -- using your non-dominant hand. (Write whatever comes to your mind and do not censor.)
v Take yourself on a guided meditation walk. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and imagine a field of grass, with a path. You are on the path and at the end, far into the distance you can see an old structure. Imagine walking to that structure and seeing what or who is in it. When done, write about what you experienced.
v Using your cell phone take 25 detailed shots of one part of one room in your home, such as reflections in a spoon or water running in the sink. Compose each shot so that it reflects something about yourself.
I would love to hear the results of any of these exercises. Please email me by going to the contact page on my website: http://bit.ly/2i6Zocl
Wayne Dyer said, "Everything that's created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness."
Part II of this subject will discuss how the limitation of silence and stillness can enhance your creativity.
In the meantime, you might want to watch John Spencer's interesting TED TALK about creativity and limitations: