Tension is one of the essential ingredients of creative work. It can be discomforting, but often it functions as a propellant which fuels our inspiration and lateral thinking.
Sometimes the tension is just there, a natural part of the creative process. A consequence of circumstance.
As with constraints, we can also assert it deliberately with the intention of using it as a catalyst of the creative process. Using a new tool for our next project. Simplifying our portfolio website. Doubling our rates for an upcoming pitch. I’ve tried those and countless other attempts in my pursuit of seeking tension. Whatever I’m doing, I treat it as an experiment. A way to extract valuable feedback. Because at the end of the day, things won’t just magically work out every time.
Seeking tension in creative work is a muscle. To use its potential, we have to exercise it. Even though pushing the limits of the creative process should be a habit, it can be easy to overdo it. That does depend on the sensibility of everyone involved in the creative process. We need to approach tension with care and control. Otherwise, the creative process can become too painful, which will backfire, sooner or later. Tension needs to be harnessed.
The purpose is to use tension strategically and sustainably, with the aim to become stronger, grittier and more inspired, all of which are prerequisites for producing remarkable creative work.