Creativity from Resource Limitations


As I’m sitting down to write this, I have more things to do today than I have time. Somehow I need to write the last 7 pages of a manuscript and get it to my editor, who is already working on the existing pages. Production on the book got moved up, so they deadline is now today, not three days from now. On top of that I need to write this blog post, a post for my company blog, put out metaphorical fires that just popped up and still deal with general life stuff. When I deal with pulling creativity from resource limitations, it’s never about a shortage of ideas. It’s about how much I can do, and how well I can do it, within a finite amount of time.

Writer’s block is not a luxury that I can afford. That’s not meant to throw shade at anyone. If you need to take 7 years to craft your novel, because that’s your process, by all means do that. I am, as I have stated elsewhere, a hack. I am an immigrant who can’t get a traditional job because I’m not fluent in the language, don’t have a degree from national university, and possess no specialized and highly sought-after skills. Writing is the only way for me to make a living. If I don’t release something every two or three weeks, I can’t pay the bills.

Creativity from Resource Limitations

For me. That means having an outline, a schedule, and a word count target. Those are my limitations. When I get up in the morning I know what I need to write, and I need to write that whether I feel like it or not. I need to buckle down and put in the hours, whether I’m struck by inspiration or overwhelmed by the desire to binge something on Netflix. If I have 500 words, I can be concise. Brevity requires creativity. When I’ve got 96 pages to fill, I can be gratuitously verbose while considering sub-topics, alternate points of view, and supplemental information that can be included in the piece in order to add value while still padding out the word count to meet the minimum requirements of the project.

I hope that amused you half as much as it did me.

We all have different limitations, and ways of dealing with them. The point is to remember that creativity is a problem solving ability. The ways we deal with the restriction on our creativity are based on how we approach creativity. If you treat it as a rarefied thing to be rationed and protected, you’ll struggle. When you see it as its own resource, that can be used to cover the shortage of other resources, you’ll be in good shape.

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