How Limits Enhance Your Creativity
How To See Difficulties As Opportunities
At some points in our life we all have to be creative. Perhaps you have to invent a solution to a problem, create a presentation or translate an advertisement in another language. How does creativity work? Some people only feel creative when they’re totally free, and yet sometimes we have limits.
In your work have you ever had to write a text on a very wide subject but also have had a very strict word limit? Or perhaps no limit, but you have had to write it in three hours due to a deadline?
Limits are often perceived as obstacles that prevent us from developing our creativity.
But what if we could change our perspective and see limits as a challenge or as an opportunity to increase our creativity instead of reducing it?
For example, the simple fact of having word limits doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t say what we want, it just means that we have to say it in fewer words. Similarly, if we have to do something within a time limit, we don’t have time to change or correct it several times, so we put more effort into making our first draft, the final draft.
If we start seeing limits as a challenge, we will be presented with more restrictions and would inevitably squeeze our creativity to fit that precise form: as a result, what before were obstacles would stimulate your brain to find new solutions.
Real creativity means to be creative even where there seems to be no space for it. For example, some might say that in translation there’s no space for creativity because a translator only has to repeat the words that some one else has already written. That may be true. I, however, realised that even in my job there are situations where I need to be creative:
- when I have to find the translation of a word that doesn’t exist in the target language
- when I must say in one page what would require five (for example in localization)
- when I translate a slogan or an advertisement (see the interview titled “Marketing, PR and Corporate Translations“)
- when I translate a piece of literary work and I have to respect a certain register
The main point is that you can either see restrictions as an obstacle or as a challenge. If you see them as a challenge, your mind will learn to be creative within the limits set, and who knows, the results could be surprising.