Today I want to discuss the value of embracing your creative boundaries. And how boundaries actually make better art, and help you get better at sharing what you create. Let’s dig in…
Limits Help Art
I’m reading Keith Richards’ autobiography, and when he discusses making the Rolling Stones’ most successful albums, he talks about how limits make the process much better from an artistic standpoint. Keith embraces two different creative limits:
- He’s a guitarist and songwriter. A guitar has six strings. Keith removes one of them. So here is a guy writing music for a famous rock band, which would traditionally want the biggest sound possible, and he’s removing the low E string. Which string is this? Well, in my experience, this is the string that many rock musicians rely on most. It’s a deeper sound and packs a big punch. Keith literally removes it from his guitars.
- In recording albums, he prefers to use an 8 track recorder. What this means is that to record a full band, each sound would have it’s own track that would then get mixed down to the song. So maybe drums on one track, lead vocal on another, etc. Nowadays, you can really just have unlimited tracks during recording. He put his preference for the 8 track limit this way: “[Using] sixteen and twenty-four tracks.. made it much more difficult to make records. The canvas becomes enormous and it becomes much harder to focus.” For Keith, less is more.
I spend so much time researching how successful writers, artists, and creators have found their version of success. What do I find time and time again? Their art took a massive leap forward when they faced creative boundaries. When they didn’t have access to seemingly essential tools. When they lost what felt like an essential ingredient to their process. When they had a ridiculous time limit. Or some other barrier that easily could have caused them to stop.
But they didn’t. They thrived. That limit was what they needed for a massive leap forward.
We All Have Boundaries
This applies to how we share as well. We all have boundaries. We all have preferences that feel like they are rules set in stone. E.G.: “Oh, I would never talk about myself on social media, that’s so gauche.” Or, “Everyone I know hates email. Sending a newsletter would only annoy people. I won’t do it.”
The one I run into most often is this: “I have a hard time sharing because I’m an introvert. Marketing just isn’t for me.”
Now, I will say this up front: every one of us is unique. Only you can determine what you are comfortable doing. I’m encouraging you to be open minded, but in the end, I respect that you have to do what feels right to you. That said, I would encourage you to embrace your boundaries. And in doing so, find a way to move towards your creative goals even with those boundaries.
I am a massive introvert. Much of my day is spent either:
- Locked in a room by myself.
- Locked in a house with three other people who I love dearly.
And I thrive like this. I’ve heard the introvert thing summarized like this: “introverts are depleted by social interactions, extroverts are filled up by them.” For myself, I do find that after I give a big online presentation or have a series of back to back phone calls, I need to take a nap. Yes, I’m a napper. Every day, for well more than a decade. I love naps.
But of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t like people. I love people! And I actually love connecting and having deep conversations. I mean, if you have ever met me, seen one of my workshops, or listened to my podcast, you hopefully get a sense that I love talking with people and am incredibly passionate about the connecting with writers, artists, and those who create.
It would be easy for me to say: “I’m an introvert, therefore I can’t put myself out there on Instagram.” But three thousand posts later, clearly I can. Or to say, “Do not ask me to be on video, I’m more comfortable in real-life conversations.” Yet I have recorded and shared thousands of videos over the years. And, I really like it, here’s one. I’ve made my own version of introversion work for me. I have embraced my boundaries, and in doing so, use them to ensure I can still create and share.
My boundaries are not meant to limit my life, but allow me to show up more fully to what matters most.
These limits have allowed me to show up with total presence and authenticity. You have your own version of all of this. I’m sharing my experience simply to illustrate that one can have serious preferences and still thrive in how they share and connect. My entire week is spent chatting with writers! I meet new people all the time! And I’ve developed ways to do it that feel comfortable for me.
Embracing Your Boundaries Helps You Share With Authenticity
To share with a sense of authenticity, I would encourage you to impose limits. This helps stave off a sense of feeling overwhelmed. I have this conversation with writers all the time, that in embracing how to share their writing, they are trying to master so many skills at once. It’s a lot. Take it one step at a time. Sometimes I think of it as a literacy… learning how to communicate what you create and why, learning how to write a newsletter (and how to send it), how to share on Instagram, how to send an email to a podcaster, how to ask for a book blurb, etc. The potential list of tasks for developing your platform as an author can be long.
The solution? Do less. Consider how you share as a craft that you develop. So perhaps instead of being active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and a newsletter, you pick just one of those to focus on for awhile. But then, you show up all the way. You view it as a craft, not a tasks you do begrudgingly.
Or perhaps you flip how you think about social media, Instead of thinking of it as a way to gain attention for your writing, you view it as a tool to celebrate the creative work of others. So you promote other writers, you reply back to them in supportive ways, and you wake up each day considering how you can truly make a writer or reader feel seen today.
Recently I wrote about this topic in a post titled: Want to grow your platform? Do less. It’s applicable here. I also recorded a podcast version of that, so you can hear me talk about it. Then I recorded a video of that:
Yep, that’s me the introvert sharing via text, audio, and video. And loving it. I respect my boundaries and preferences. But when I consider how I want to spend my days — supporting writers and creators — I find ways to still create and share even with those boundaries.
As you consider your own goals in how you share what you create, I would simply encourage you to explore this for yourself.