Constraints inspire creativity

It’s easy to think of creativity as something inherently chaotic and unconstrained. After all, what you can achieve within constraints is a strict subset of what you can achieve without them (that’s what “constraint” means), so you can achieve more and thus be more creative when not constrained, right?

Surprisingly, the opposite often turns out to be true.

Constraining the problem you’re working on often inspires you to be more creative. It forces you out of ruts. It’s easy to fall into familiar patterns and habits. Constraints will often prevent you from following those and force you to explore new solutions. Additionally, it forces you to think about aspects of the problem that you wouldn’t otherwise have thought about, and these new things can inspire you to think about the problem domain in an entirely new way.

Not all constraints are useful for this of course, but I suspect most are.

There’s more I could say about this, but if I expand too much on this point this post will just end up as draft #65 in my list of unfinished posts. I’ll leave you to draw your own tortuous analogy as to why that’s an instance of the effect I’m describing (it probably isn’t).

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  1. Pingback: Constraints inspire creativity | David R. MacIver | George Gardelinos - Log

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