Choosing Creativity Through Discomfort

“You cannot pursue great work and comfort simultaneously.”

– Todd Henry

This quote sticks in my brain. In anal moments, I see and can identify the dangerous “comfortable” zone. I know, if I pause to check in, where I’m playing it safe.

In the studio, my beads give me away. Stuck in tired or overwhelm, I make easy, traditional choices. My tendency toward random beading goes away and structured, predictable patterns take its place.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Lemon Yellow Spring

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Lemon Yellow Spring

A convergence of deadlines had forced me to organize, prioritize and then deal with projects not of my first choice this week. I had little time for fun and less time for the studio.

Todd Henry’s book, The Accidental Creative,  caused me to think more carefully about the situations in which I explore creativity.

Henry offers some loose structures to foster creativity. Although he’s addressing corporate teams, I found his advice applicable for other creatives. Contemplating my situation raised my awareness of the processes involved.

My better work comes from a place of feeling. Once I began beading, I got past the analysis and past the safe tiers. Color my next effort “bolder.”

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Sedona Summer

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Sedona Summer

The very act of “thinking” about my beadwork limits what I produce. If I “feel” it, the piece nearly creates itself. After considering tribal focals for a couple of days, I produced “Red” by playing with my freeform beadweaving and just feeling the effects I wanted to achieve.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrrigan, “Red” Beadweaving

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrrigan, “Red” Beadweaving

In a non-scientific test, I’ve conversed with others about how their comfort zone affects creativity. Funny thing, I’m discovering that discomfort makes people whine and brings up all manner of fear-based assumptions. My conclusion: start.

Initiate the process of creating, even if you’re not excited about your particular project. Once you’re in the “zone,” discomfort fades and the ideas come.

How will you push your comfort zone?