Limits vs. creativity: does it have to be a duel?


I joined in the On Being a Writer online discussion for the last six weeks and gained a lot from it. [The series, hosted by Kate Motaung, was based on Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig’s book On being a writer: 12 simple steps for a writing life that lasts]

One of the topics that left me thinking was that of ‘Limit’.

Before the issue was raised via this series, I was acting like a spoilt child, asking ‘Why does this have to be my life?”…”Why me?”…

I was seeing, feeling, assimilating the limits that are imposed on me as being debilitating, spirit-crushing, life-sapping.

Then I pondered the prompt, read the responses of the other lovely ladies who joined in and had a major lightbulb moment…

Limits are actually useful for our creativity if we come at them from the right frame of mind.

Now, instead of thinking ‘Oh woe is me, I only have one hour to write”, with this shift in perspective, I’m all “Yay! I have one hour to write! What can I get done in this one hour?”.

I’ve come to relish the challenge and to see exactly how productive I can be in this hour.

The part of me that needs a challenge and some degree of external motivation is excited by this new frame of mind.

I’ve come to my writing hour afresh, with new eyes and more vigour and am loving seeing what I can produce/do in my whole hour.

This fresh perspective on the external limits on my time have kick-started my creativity.

These limits have made me more determined and, because of this new-found determination, they’ve made me more creative. 

I’m working with what I have, starting from where I am, instead of kicking myself that nothing is ideal.

It’s been a major wake-up call not only for my creativity but also in other areas of my life. When abundance doesn’t flow, it’s easy to get down, discouraged. But, instead of letting ourselves get discouraged, why don’t we turn it on it’s head?

Think you’re not enough? You don’t have enough?

Start to name the things you do have that you should be thankful for. Start to think how you can maximise the money/time you do have available.

Thinking in ‘haves’ and not ‘have nots’, thinking of limits as challenges, it’ll open up a whole new world of possibility.

What’s the worse thing about limits?

We think they block our realm of possibility. This certainly is the case sometimes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t actively seek – and make the best of – the possibilities that are available to us.

This possibility-based thinking will – through unleashing our innate creativity – lead us out of the walls we build for ourselves.

And the best thing?

Once we’ve tasted what we can do when we’re limited, we won’t seek happiness, contentment elsewhere, we’ll find that we’re happy where we are with what we have, doing what we can do.

We’ll be expressing ourselves – our rich, inner, selves – despite the limits (whether this be time or disbelief in ourselves or or or…). And this full deliverance of our self expression will make us happy (may even, in the process, remove some of the limits we place on ourselves).

We’re not going to produce our best work unless we put the practice in and what better practice than creating within the boundaries imposed by the limits we face?

Can the limits we face push us to eventually become limitless….push us towards realising our best work? Can pushing up against our limits help us to develop – and flex – our creative muscles?

Would really love to hear what you think!

Helen xxx


10 thoughts on “Limits vs. creativity: does it have to be a duel?

  1. alexa says:

    This is a lovely, thought-provoking post. I never set limits and creativity in opposition to each other. They have an ‘=’ sign between them: my experience is that limits encourage creativity to blossom and flourish :).

    Liked by 1 person

    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Alexa, yes, I’m learning this, too, for my writing. And it is eye-opening. [Having always scrapped ‘best’ by limiting my ‘palette’ of choices to scrap with, I should really have applied this idea to my writing life long ago….we live and learn…]. Helen xx


  2. juliekirk says:

    I think it’s a beautifully simple alteration you’ve made …. that’s had a rich return on it! I have quite a lot of free time at the moment [ending soon!] and have been struggling to ‘allow’ myself just to sit and write. Kept trying to do something for my shop instead [thinking I must make money this week … rather than investing time in the money I could make in the future with my words. It’s very easy to stick with what you know, what’s already a pattern, I’m working my way round to changing that though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • iwillbloom says:

      Hia J….yes, as you say….it’s a beautifully simple alteration in my thinking which has caused a major shift in my approach to my writing. Who’d have thought?! Yes, I agree: it’s easy to stick with what we know but if you want major changes, you have to implement at least small changes, at first, to your daily routines….that can often be the hardest part of it all (from experience). H xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gabriele says:

    I can say for myself, limits to my time and energy have not stopped me from stretching into creative pursuits. What has stopped me is the disbelief that my creativity is essential to my happiness. Once I got my head around that I stopped being apologetic about my dabblings into painting, composing, and writing. If I do something creative every day I am more healthy emotionally and mentally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • iwillbloom says:

      Gabriele, I think I was definitely in this sort of ‘denial’ stage, too….I’m definitely in the frame of mind, now, where I feel that dedicating myself to my writing is not a frivolous waste of time because it makes me happy, allows me to explore my most authentic self. I definitely feel, on the whole, more emotionally and mentally balanced and happy now I’ve acknowledged that this shift needed to happen. Such a ‘simple’ thing, but so, so fundamentally important in terms of who we are and how we move through our lives. Helen xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Barbara says:

    Very good post…great information for life, not just for writing!! In our case, I dwell on the finances and the fact that we always seem to come up short way before the end of the month – and with us, our “end of the month” is NOT the end of the month per se…we get paid the 3rd and 4th weeks of the month; so as we move to the end of September, and the beginning of October, it will be the 21st of October before anything more comes in…

    Now, that being said…we SHOULD have enough because the bills are paid and there is plenty of food in the house. And there IS money in the bank – but not much – but if we need gas or milk or bread or…well, we can buy it. But, do I have what I need for my upcoming retreat? No! Do I have enough for us to head down south to a quick trip to a tower and gardens…not really! Even though I have the tickets (free! won in a raffle!), the gas and food would be extra!

    Oh, well…I keep saying we have “enough”…and love what you said – “I only have”, versus celebrating that “you have”! It’s like I’ve said in some of the committees and other things I am involved in…rather than saying “I have to attend a meeting”, I try to change it to say, “I GET to attend a meeting” … It does make a difference…

    I just need to focus on what we DO have and thank God that we have it! What we need…He will meet our needs…sorry for long comment!!!

    Always enjoy reading your posts!


    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Barbara, only just had time to come and reply….thank you so much for your comment. I’m pleased you enjoyed it. And, absolutely, it definitely applies to all of life….I definitely learnt a great deal about being creative the months I was unable to work…and definitely believe that small changes in how we think affect our lives so much….thinking of you, Barbara….Helen xxxxx


  5. Joy Lenton says:

    Oh I LOVE this inspirational and affirming word! You reach me soul deep. I also have many limitations on my life yet am determined to make the most of the time and space they free up for creativity. All of your words spoke to me, but these sum up what I need to take on board and remember when that old joy-stealer of comparison creeps into my heart:” what better practice than creating within the boundaries imposed by the limits we face?” Yes, indeed! Helen, you’re a wonder and I love being in community with you. Keep on keeping on (writing that novel) my friend. You’re already half way there with this positive attitude. Xox ❤


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