Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Respecting Boundaries

Thinking outside of the box. Writing outside of the lines. Pushing the envelope. These grandly rebellious expressions are celebrated. Those who stay within boundaries are often regarded as not quite bright; sluggish gray beings who disdain creative thought.

In most cases, however, the borders are there for a reason and when they are transgressed a punishment ensues. I've met a lot of people who have spent their lives writing outside of the lines. Some of them were wearing prison garb. Others had mistaken being unconventional with being creative. They thought any unusual approach was self-recommending.

Not so. The boundaries can encourage creativity, not restrict it. Watch films from times when a director couldn't employ masses of profanity, special effects, and nudity. Odds are you will notice better dialogue as well as serious character development. You will see style.

A key skill in life is knowing when the boundaries are a boost or a barrier. In most cases, they make us better.


Tanmay Vora said...

Spot on Michael. You have such a wonderful way with your words!

It seems that "think outside the box" is sometimes overrated.

I have seen people self-imposing boundaries to get more creative and effective. Twitter, Haiku's, Mini-Saga's, 100 word stories are popular because they impose a constraint which helps us get more creative.

I wrote a post "Creativity, Effectiveness and Constraints" last year to emphasize this. http://qaspire.com/blog/?p=592



Michael Wade said...


Thank you! And thanks for the post link.