Episode 4: Why Setting Limits is a Good Thing

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

People think creativity exists only when options are endless. The truth is that infinite possibilities can be paralyzing. There’s research to support this: that when people have too many options, they’re much less likely to take decisive action.

But setting limits for your writing can be a good thing. It’s only in limiting your choices that you are able to start writing and create a story. Also when you have fewer options, you are all the more likely to make the most of the resources you have. In this episode I’ll share with you exactly why setting limits are the key to unleashing your creative spirit.


Having too many options open can be paralyzing. It’s like when you have a blank page in front of you it’s so hard to write, but when you put something (anything!) on the page, the writing suddenly becomes easier.


Here are 5 Reasons to Set Limits:

  1. Limits give you freedom. Sometimes having too many choices can be paralyzing and the best thing we can do for our writing is to set some limits.
  2. Limits give you focus. When you focus, your writing becomes more potent and concise, instead of scattered and dilute.
  3. Limits make you stop and think. When you pause and think things through before writing, you’re more likely to get it “right” the first time and you can avoid costly mistakes.
  4. Limits give your writing voice distinction. Sooner or later, you have to own your voice and start having opinions. When you share what you really think, you may not appeal to everyone, but you’ll connect with your ideal readers.
  5. Limits give your story shape/structure. Every choice you make when writing is a limit that you set for yourself, your characters, and the world you are building

Some Ways to Set Limits:

1) Use prompts.

Prompts are a great way to challenge yourself by setting limits, and we have some for you to try! Our Conquer the Craft writing challenge is going on right now! With 29 prompts in 29 days, this challenge is the perfect way to set some limits and improve your writing.

2) Put something on the page.

A quote, a sentence from your previous writing session, whatever. It doesn’t matter what you put on the page as long as you just start writing. Something on the page will get you focused, thinking, and most importantly… writing.

3) Close a door for your character.

If there are too many directions where your story can go, then it’s not really a story. Limit those options. Eliminate some possibilities and watch your character take decisive action.

4) Leave something to chance.

Pick prompts at random. Roll a die to decide which way your story will go. Do something that leaves the choice up to chance, then work with the result that you get.


Resource Recap:

Conquer the Craft: Try the Conquer the Craft writing challenge, 29 prompts in 29 days. This challenge is not only designed to help you write more, but to make you write better. For more details or to join, go to DIYMFA.com/challenge.

In case you’re curious, here’s a link to the research article about that Iyengar jam study. There’s a lot of statistical details in there, but this article will give you the most detailed view about the study.

Link to Episode 4

(Right-click to download.)

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.


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