When water leaks into your SCUBA mask, beginners tighten the straps.
But this warps the seal, letting in more water.
Experienced divers loosen the straps because they know that the ocean provides all the pressure you need and the straps are just there to keep the mask in place.
The same principle applies to creative work.
When you get stuck trying to make something, don’t force it. If you tighten the psychological straps, stress floods in, drowning your ideas.
Instead, go for a hike, read a novel, play a game, call your mom, let your mind roam free—a solution will reveal itself when you least expect it.
Complement with Quantity is a route to quality, not its opposite, Be bold, and Creativity is a choice.
Eliot Peper is the author of nine novels, including Cumulus, Bandwidth, and, most recently, Veil. He sends a monthly newsletter, tweets more than he probably should, and lives in Oakland, CA.