Why creativity doesn’t have to be chaotic, and structure doesn’t have to be boring

Before we look at how both creativity and structure can work together, let’s look at how the two exist separately. But the truth is, you need both.

You’re either the ADD creative who can’t sit still for five minutes at a time, but wildly brilliant.

Or…

You’re the OCD task manager who lives for sticky notes, spiral-bound planners, and excel spreadsheets.


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But the truth is, you need both.

If you are the manic creative with no sense of structure, you might have the most amazing ideas in the world but you will be incapable of bringing them to life.

On the flip side, you might be extremely organized and diligent, but unless you are willing to let yourself explore outside your comfort zone and get a little creative, you will never be able to create something valuable on your own.

Before we look at how both can work together, let’s look at how the two exist separately.

Creativity

Pros: Innovation, creation, flow.

Cons: Inconsistent, difficult to understand, intangible.

If you don’t know my stance on the creative process already, I recommend you read some of my other articles to understand more of what I mean by the terms I use.

There is something about the process and flow of ideas that I can’t get enough of.
I don’t see chaos — I see unlimited possibilities.

If you’re a natural creative, you have a trait that lots of people struggle to find because it is so complex. And if you do have a creative mind, you will know exactly what I mean when I talk about how difficult it is to control.

These bursts of creativity are exactly that — bursts.

When I am in my flow, I feel like nothing in the world can stop me. But the moment I fall out of my flow, I crumble.

There is no more beauty, no more unlimited possibilities — because my flow is gone.

This is where structure can actually help bring back that state of flow, and make the creative process a little bit less ethereal.

Structure

Pros: Consistent, easy to understand, tangible.

Cons: Lack of spontaneity, repetitive, boring.

I would first like to point out that structure should not be seen as something that suppresses creativity, but is rather a practice that motivates the mind to exercise the creative process.

When I wake up in the morning, I approach my tasks with structure in mind.

I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 20 minutes to hygiene, and 30 minutes to eating. The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

The point of structure is to give yourself the permission to make time for something you want to do.

Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

Structure is what creates the opportunity.

Creativity is what makes the opportunity unfold.

There will always be a constant push-pull between creativity and structure, but the reality is that both are needed in order for the other to thrive.

The key is to find a balance by making time and then adapting to how you feel.

If something doesn’t feel right, then play around with it until it does. If something feels good but not great, find a better way to do it.

Keeping yourself within the realm of either being “creative” or “structured” will only remove you from the resources the other side has to offer.

You have to have both.

This article originally appeared on Inc Magazine.


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