One of the things that make it easier for me to be creatively productive is that I have an innate ability to create parameters, to create a box for my work, without even thinking about it. That’s according to Rachel Z. Cornell. Rachel who’s a dear friend, is an expert and professional at productivity and creativity, getting people to do and finish things. So she knows me, and she knows what she’s talking about.

She said: “We always think that thinking outside the box is the creative way to go, but the reason you’re successful at being able to consistently make art, is that you make a box, a small box, and then you put yourself in it. And within that small box, which is the parameters, like birds, and then narrow it, and narrow it more.

You make the parameters for you to be creative, so it’s not an overwhelming thing. The reason why you have consistent productive success is that you create parameters. And you end up being more creative than many of the people and clients I know is that you create these parameters. You don’t even consciously do it, you just do it.”

It may not be innate to you, it may not come naturally. It doesn’t have to. Here’s how you go about it. Rachel broke it down for me so I could explain it to you.

Take the start of the idea and narrow it down further and further:

  1. I’m going to paint
  2. I’m going to paint a series
  3. I’m going to paint a series of birds
  4. I’m going to paint a series of 15 birds
  5. I’m going to paint 15 different and fun birds
  6. I’m going to paint 15 birds in watercolour, making them different and fun by changing the colours and adding patterns
  7. The first bird will be a magpie

So many tell you to think outside the box all the time, but that can get you stuck in blank paper paralysis. Outside the box is huge, with so many options.

You have the skillset, the desire, the willingness, the energy and the energy to create cool things. Then you spend your time thinking about what would be the next cool idea. Instead of making a box out of what you’re good at, what you love, what you want.

Sometimes you need to narrow it down to get somewhere. A blank canvas can leave you not knowing where to start, but if you start in a corner, you’re up and running.

What do you think of this?

Would narrowing the parameters help you?


  1. Psychic Nest

    The more clear the focus is, the easier it is to let the creativity flow! Thank you for these excellent tips!


  2. Jules Mulcahy

    This was really helpful Linda. Thanks to you and Rachel for sharing the procedure. I have a project I am working on currently, and was beginning to feel the faint whispers of overwhelm. I will now use your process to chunk it down, and then begin.

    • Linda Ursin

      Thanks 🙂 I’m happy to hear it’s helpful. I’ll tell Rachel. Don’t push yourself too hard. Listen to your body when it tells you to rest.


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