Take Risks. Break The Rules.

Get comfortable with uncertainty.

Xtian Miller
Sep 5, 2017 · 4 min read

Risk-taking is a normal part of the process

Without taking risks, original ideas wouldn’t be possible. It’s an obstacle that every creative needs to overcome if they are to create something new, but it always comes with exposure to the possibility of failure or mediocrity. Acknowledging the purpose of risk-taking in the creative process seems unorthodox, but should be accepted in order to create original work.

When a direction feels risky, it’s probably worth it. It’s a sign of the unconventional — the path that most would avoid. It might seem audacious or adventurous. You’re creating something that most would hesitate to do. Perhaps it’s a little outside of your comfort zone, but if you stick to your guns and take the leap you’ll gain knowledge at the very least. You’ll learn more from a risk than playing it safe.

‘Over time, the greatest risk you can take is to take no risks at all.’ — Zat Rana

Don’t overvalue certainty

In the process of creativity, certainty can be a comfort. When you abide by rules, you can predict certain results. It can give you confidence. You can work more efficiently. You can trust in your ability to deliver a specific output. However, you can input as much certainty as you like, but you’re more likely to stifle your creative output.

Without the assurance of predictability, you can feel at a disadvantage because you’re relying on the mechanisms of uncertainty — improvisation, experimentation, or pure gut feeling — to guide your way. To a certain extent, fear and doubt will make you want to steer clear of it. You’ll naturally want to bank on rules, principles and trends as much as possible. But in order to find new possibilities and original ideas, you’ll need to take some of the certainty out of the equation, because the more you rely on it, the more likely you’ll produce unoriginal work.

‘Overvaluing certainty means choosing the same paths that have already been trodden.’ — Julie Zhuo

Get comfortable with uncertainty

Depending on the field you work in, there are different levels at which you are able to ideate and create within the realm of uncertainty—to the point where you’re challenging traditions. Aesthetics and form are usually the main areas ripe for creative exploration, but sometimes it’s the function.

With certainty, you can become stagnant because you are close-minded to anything new, but being comfortable with uncertainty can help you overcome inertia. To achieve that, all you need to do is allow your mind to open up to new ways of thinking. Know that uncertainty is the path to unlock original ideas. Rules and trends are present in all creative fields, and they will always be capable of tempting you away from the newer possibilities. You have to stand clear of some of those tendencies to maximize your creative thinking.

‘If you don’t push yourself beyond your limit of conscious understanding, you haven’t really opened the door for the creativity to come in.’ — Mark McGuinness

Don’t ask yourself too many questions

When it comes to risk-taking, the trick is to embrace the journey and allow your assumptions about the future to evolve. If you focus too much on your expectations about the outcome, you’ll lose some of the improvisation and discoveries along the way.

Most people ask themselves too many questions throughout the process, and worry too much about the future. Once you have no desire to formalize the outcome, you’ll engage in new ways of thinking and enjoy the procedure.

‘Release yourself from the outcome. Let it have its space. Give it room to breathe. Lean into the here and now. Find joy in the journey.’ — Nina Singhapakdi

Break the rules like an artist

Rules make ideas predictable and boring. It helps to know the rules, but don’t abide by all of them. Picasso once said; learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist. Also, you don’t need to know everything about everything. There are many that are self-taught and unversed in the principles and practices of institutions—whether that’s in music, art or design—yet can produce outstanding, inspiring work. They’re perhaps less burdened, less distracted with the knowledge, rules and history that everyone else is.

You shouldn’t be afraid of breaking the rules because you’ll learn more about your own craft than if you didn’t. Most people decide to follow the conventions that the majority have already adopted, but there’s always another way. You may be surprised how much your audience will accept new and challenging ideas.

‘Be a rebel, break the rules and don’t be afraid of anything. What if you fail? Get up, try again.’ — van Schneider

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Attack The Front

Empowering creatives with thought-provoking ideas and words of inspiration.

Xtian Miller

Written by

Digital Experiences Associate @AIGADetroit. Design Lead @Vectorform. Creativity & Productivity hacktivist.

Attack The Front

Empowering creatives with thought-provoking ideas and words of inspiration.