Creativity Killers: Rules

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creativeThis is the sixth creativity post in a series by guest contributor, Patricia Ryan.

Rules are the opposite of creative ideas. Rules come from outside you, and all your creative ideas come from within you. The only rules you really want to follow are those about safety, or are just common sense. Any other rules, you should feel free to stretch, bend, stand on their heads, or shatter.

Often, rules come from people who have so much experience doing a thing, that they’ve developed habits in what they do. When you start a new activity, it’s hard to tell a real rule from someone’s plain old habit. If this really is your first effort, it’s useful to take each nugget of another’s experience—because they could be pure gold—make sure you understand it, and then use it like the rung on a ladder to take your vision—and imagination—up to a new level. Use it to see what they would do—as if you were them.

But once you’ve understood those rules, check inside yourself for the teeniest, tiniest glimmer of a desire to ignore or bend any of them. If you feel that glimmer, no matter how faint it is, grab it and encourage it. That glimmer is your creativity saying, yes, I know others do it that way, but I want to do something different. YOU, the artist, are feeling that desire, and it’s your creativity, your originality that wants to go in a different direction.

Another type of rule is tradition. Every type of craft that’s recognized as such has enough practitioners, sometimes thousands of years’ worth, that their collective knowledge and practices become as important a part of the craft as what they produce. Traditions are a wonderful part of human culture and history. But again, if you feel the smallest inclination in yourself to break tradition, either to tweak it slightly, or transport it into a whole new dimension—that is innovation. That is invention. Be creative—give yourself permission to follow that desire.

Next time: “Oops.”

©2013 by Patricia M. Ryan, a multi-media artist in Beavercreek, OR, and the author of “First Aid For Your Menopause Emotions”. You can see her art at


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