The secret to creativity, at least for me, is having some sort of lingering deadline hanging over my shoulder that I know I need to hit. I can hit that creative idea powerfully if I know that I don’t have too much time to overthink it.
I think that when I struggle with a creative project, it’s because there’s been a loss of that structure, and as a result I find myself having to do things without a hard deadline.
Other people may thrive on the open canvas; I find it stifling. And I think that with creative projects that I struggle with, what I might need to do to make those projects work is to find ways to invent more deadlines and structure around them, so I’m not feeling lost in an open-ended mindset.
Perhaps the reason the comparison gets made, beyond a content level, is because we have a similar approach to deadlines. Here’s what Mars told the magazine:
If you have a deadline it means you probably have another deadline behind it. You should do your best, but everything doesn’t have to be precious and perfect, you can get it next time. I like having a weekly show for that reason. Knowing that each episode doesn’t have to be the definitive episode of 99pi is the key to me getting it out in the world. The struggle is in doing the best you can every week, not sweating over every single thing and expending all your energy until you collapse.
I’m with Mars—the part that often makes creativity challenging for me is that dipping in with an exploratory mindset often means that I end up floating and tweaking, rather than trying to do something, start to finish. Perfection is dangerous—completion matters.
And not having the luxury of time means you can lift higher than you might have ever thought.