It’s Not a Constraint; It’s “Creative Pressure”

I read last night in InGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, by Stanford neuroscience professor Tina Seelig, about the importance of pressure in the creative process.

She talks about “building up creative pressure” that motivates us to produce. Without pressure, creativity actually wanes.

High pressure leads to high creativity, especially when there’s a mission. Seelig cites numerous examples of how constraints (time, resources, support, energy) fuel genius acts of creativity. She explores the Apollo 13 crisis, eBay’s Auction for America, Twitter, the Six Word Memoir project, and others.

The tighter the restrictions, the more creative people became.

What if we saw daily constraints as creative pressure? We don’t have the time to write a novel. We don’t have the space to design this new thing. We don’t have the energy. We don’t have the money. We don’t have the support of others.

Maybe these things aren’t the end of the world if we saw them as building our creative pressure.

Maybe our creativity requires these restrictions.

I like thinking of it this way.

Can you create under pressure? Who knew you might actually be more creative?

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  1. Though I understand what Tina Seelig's research is about it is also a perfect way to put even more pressure on yourself: There's not much time or energy because I have to raise my kids, go to work and care for my family but hey, I just need to get creative with this “lack” and sacrifice my hobbies or sleep or whatever and I will be able to manage. I am not sure if this concept will ultimately work because it can be misunderstood…