Comfort Zone Creativity: Possible or Impossible?

November 19, 2011 — 15 Comments

Comfort zone. Creative zone. Are there magic recipes to create masterpieces?

I saw this simple drawing here and was given permission to repost it. [Update: the original post is here along with a ton of other gems! Check it out!]

Man I love this concept… and hate it.

Can we create in a comfort zone? Aren’t there ways we MUST be comfortable to create?

What’s been your experience you writers, actors, teachers, moms, pastors, trainers, and other miracle makers?

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Andrew Zahn

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I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.
  • Susan

    I LOVE that diagram! There’s a similar sentiment that I read somewhere: “The life you want is right outside your comfort zone.” I have been brave and stepped outside my comfort zone and endeavor to continue to do so. It was sometimes terrifying, but also exhilarating, thrilling, rewarding. But you pose an interesting question – can we create if we’re not comfortable – anxious? terrified even? For me, I think, it’s that moment when I’m on the fence, the do-I-or-don’t-I jump into the unknown that’s the scary part and once I’ve leapt, all sorts of things just start happening and I’m too busy and excited to be scared anymore. I made a big jump when I answered an ad for an experienced interior designer, which I wasn’t exactly, and then actually got the job (come to think of it, my boss took a leap when he hired me!). It was a joyful moment but a bit heart-stopping too. And here I am, two years later, working happily and successfully in my new career with an expanded skill set and a whole new way to express my creativity. Maybe we creatives need to step outside the zone so that we can continue to create, so we don’t stagnate. Maybe every time we create, we step outside in some way. Isn’t creating itself a big unknown? When we truly create and give full voice to that energy, isn’t it with no real idea of where it wil lead, of what the end result will be?

    Well, I’ve written way more than I thought I would and probably more than you wanted, but thanks for the question and for getting me thinking on a lazy Sunday morning!

    • http://zahndrew.wordpress.com Andrew Zahn

      Thanks for your contribution Susan! Isn’t it fun to explore the thrilling and scary and rewarding creative process in action!?

      With your permission, I may want to repost some of your thoughts in a new post. Let me know what you think.

      • Susan

        Yes, Andrew, you may re-post and thank you for asking – I am flattered! Just please fix that typo – I do know how to spell “will” : )

  • Jennie Throckmorton

    I have to be creative on a day to day basis, and get others to do the same. Mostly I do art and help small business get their image together. My steps are as follows.
    1. Forget all limits. ALL LIMITS
    2. What would you do now?
    3. If it doesn’t pop up now, then let yourself daydream and make scribble patterns until you see something
    4. Build on it. As much as you want
    5. Come back to earth. What is the basic thing in the dream?
    6. How much or what do you really need?
    7. Back off give up ownership. Now how would you get this done. This is a hard step requires, hard facts and a distance between you and the project.
    8. Create the project. Stop before it becomes public or you pay out large sums of money.
    9. Go away don’t think about it. At least 24 hours more time is better.
    10. Now that you have a cold eye come back and review it. Stay as cold as you can and complete the project.
    11. The best part. Go about your day to day life doing what needs to be done. After a time go back and look at your work. Wow! it looks so much better.
    This last step has taken me as long as two years, going from tossing the work out, letting it lay on the floor, to finding out it was received as the best work I had ever done. Yes, acceptence by others makes you proud of your own work.

    • http://zahndrew.wordpress.com Andrew Zahn

      Jennie, those 11 steps are quite cool. I feel others might find them helpful along with a couple other comments on this post.

      May I repost your 11 at some point?

      Thanks for your comment and contribution.

      • Jennie Throckmorton

        You can do what ever you want. I trust you.

  • http://www.scrollwork.blogspot.com Scrollwork: Quirkyisms from a Tropical Transplant

    You asked two questions: Can we create in a comfort zone? Aren’t there ways we MUST be comfortable to create?

    For me, as a writer and indie clothing designer, the creation happens twice, first in my head, then in real life. I get images or phrases in my head as I awaken or shower—definitely comfortable states. I am still in non-judgmental mode.

    But the impetus to create feels like a strong contraction—decidedly uncomfortable. It doesn’t leave me alone until I’ve taken one step toward the birth. I jot down the blog idea, sketch the dress design, or curate my stash of fabrics.

    The process of writing and sewing is painful! I beat myself up emotionally and cramp my back and fingers for good measure. The torture doesn’t let up until I can see some semblance of what I first imagined.

    Then the happy dance…

    • http://zahndrew.wordpress.com Andrew Zahn

      I enjoyed your comment and your very creative blog as well! As with some of the other comments, I may want to repost it in a new post.

      Would that be ok with you?

      • http://www.scrollwork.blogspot.com Scrollwork: Quirkyisms from a Tropical Transplant

        Absolutely! (and sorry for the delay in responding) I just realized though that what I mean to write was “Aren’t there ways we must be UNcomfortable to create?” I remember at 17 being asked by the editor of our college newspaper to write more poetry for the literary section. I told him I couldn’t; I was in love and too happy to write! (That wasn’t a typo, BTW, where I grew up there wasn’t a middle school phase so I was in college at 15 1/2.)

        Thank you for your kind words about my blog.

        And I loved the exchange between your momma and you! Awww!

  • http://twitter.com/DannonL Dannon Loveland (@DannonL)

    There are many great things that happen outside your comfort zone. “Where the magic happens” is a perfect title/description.

    I didn’t notice a link to the original “Where the magic happens” so here it is: http://thisisindexed.com/2010/11/stretching-is-good-stuff/

    By the way, there is a lot of fun and creative stuff on the Indexed blog. You should check it out: http://thisisindexed.com/

    • http://zahndrew.wordpress.com Andrew Zahn

      Awesome! You’re fantastic Dannon. I was unaware of the Indexted site! I’ll check it out.

      I’ll give credit where credit is due and update my bookmark now. Much appreciated.

  • donald zahn

    I do not want to sound “Christian-ize” and have been giving thought to your musings on creativity. To be honest, the only way I “create” anything of lasting value is to be enmeshed in the Creator-my Father-God. He is the author of all creativity and I really am void of it without Him. So, the real challenge for me is to get to HIM . . .
    And to add some reality to creativity, this ALWAYS takes me out of my comfort zone (sometimes with quite a battle until yeilding to trust) and then . . . unexpected, divine magic catches me quite unaware and I am in the awe of Father.

    Love You LOTS,
    Mom

    • http://zahndrew.wordpress.com Andrew Zahn

      It’s a good point and I’m sure a number of readers agree with you.

      I myself feel it’s worship to create. I love it when churches have artwork and artists as part of their church services!

      Love YOU lots Momma

    • http://twitter.com/btsmarco Marco Botros (@btsmarco)

      I totally agree with you….It is amazing to notice the relationship between those 2, specially as they seem very different from each other. But God asks us to get out of our comfort zone everyday….simply by Praying before we sleep at 2 am after a Very Hard for instance….etc :D

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