Writing Advice: Embrace Limitations

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About a week ago, I read a post on the oft-quoted Broomeshtick site, which I have referenced on the blog before. The post in question included a quote that I thought was very apt to how my writing situation exists currently and how it might be for you, as well. I know that many of the readers of this blog are college students, struggling to juggle classes, personal lives, and — possibly — creative endeavors. There’s no doubt that it’s difficult. Sometimes a week goes by and I realize that I haven’t gotten any writing done at all. It happens. But these limitations and these restrictions can spawn creativity.

The quote that was included in this Broomeshtick post was as follows: Working elsewhere creates a desire and drive to write as I have to fit it into spare moments. […] There are many studies on how creativity is boosted when there are boundaries. It somehow helps the mind create rather than hinders it.

As the post says, the quote originated in a post by blogger Joanna Penn, who maintains the clever blog The Creative Penn. Penn’s post is all about living the life of a writer who also performs a day job. As I said earlier in this post, I think this description applies to most readers of this blog. We all have our daily obligations, things that we must do. But, with any luck, we might find an hour or two in the evening to write or paint or draw.

Now, this can seem disheartening at first. Having to put aside creative pursuits for eight hours a day can be frustrating and it can make you angry for a while, but there is hope in this kind of schedule. In the Broomeshtick post, the blog author states that there are studies proving that limitations help create creativity. If you are forced to cram your creativity into an hour or two each night, you may find yourself more productive than ever. If you only have a limited amount of time each day to work, you may find that you are putting everything you’ve got into that hour or two.

Even with the frustrations, there is also hope in the success stories of others. I know for a fact that the Young Adult novelist John Green wrote his first book with these kinds of limitations. In a recent YouTube video (Green is one half of the Vlog Brothers on YouTube), Green talked about how he wrote his first novel in the evenings and on weekends while working an entry-level position at a publisher. See — even those who’ve found success have had to deal with limitations and boundaries to their writing.

My advice to you? If you find that you have these limitations in your life, an inescapable and structured schedule, work around it. Use that hour or two that you do have available and write like there’s no tomorrow, even though there is and you need to be up for work.

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

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