As we’ve already covered, complete freedom is not helpful to the creative process. Without a clear bounding arc, any creative effort can feel para- lyzing. That’s why a clear, precise, specific directive from a client or man- ager can be helpful, at least in getting you moving in the right direction.
Sometimes these bounding arcs are the generally accepted rules of your craft. Whether you’re a marketer, entrepreneur, designer, writer, musician, etc., it’s important to have a deep and firm understanding of the basic tenets of your profession. How have others succeeded at your craft over time? What are the various schools of thought? The tools of the trade? The tried-and-true methods?
Some people want to tag themselves as “contrarian” and toss the rulebook out the window, but it’s important to understand that there is a specific reason why those rules exist to begin with: they generally work! You must earn the right to break the rules, and the way you do that is by proving first that you know them and understand why they work. Strategically breaking a rule of the craft is a great way to achieve a cre- ative breakthrough, but not until you first understand why that rule is there to begin with. As Pablo Picasso is claimed to have said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Before you try to break the rules of your craft, master them.
Are there generally accepted rules of your craft or discipline? Have you ever broken one? What happened?