Robert Fritz and structural tension

Did you know that tension can be good for you?

Robert Fritz, author of Your Life As Art and Creating, believes tension is the beginning of the creative process.

“I call the relationship between the vision and current reality structural tension. During the creative process, you have an eye on where you want to go, and you also have an eye on where you currently are.”

It is true that as creatives we often have to juggle between two opposing forces: freedom to explore against deadlines, improvisation against framework, playfulness against a need to earn money. The relationship between these two forces is this structural tension. Rather than being an unpleasant experience, however, Fritz suggests that this is desirable, because creativity requires this conflict.

As Fritz puts it, “Tension seeks resolution”. He describes this as a “basic principle of nature”.

Maybe he is right. When the horse cannot reach the leaves high in the trees, evolution helps it grow a long neck and become a giraffe. When a child seeks physical comfort from it’s parent across the room, it learns to crawl, and then walk.

From wanting something that you do not currently possess, you find a way forward.

All creations begin with a vision, an imagining of a future artistic event, that is different from your present reality.

In the gap between reality and vision, you can be your most creative. There you will need to problem solve and find practical ways of realising your ideas.

So why not take a leaf out of Fritz’s book? Remember that conflict is part of the process. And next time you feel like avoiding tension, try embracing it instead. It might just summon your creative genius.

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