Restrictions And The Way Creativity Works - Part 1

Restrictions And The Way Creativity Works - Part 1

When you think about an artist, what comes to mind? Someone looking like Dalí, entering a complete empty and white room with just a brush and some colors on the floor? Do you think of a monk who enters a room full of motivational posters or do you think about someone like Steve Jobs?

People experience creativity differently, but I think the one thing that uniquely combines all of those creative types is how they handle restrictions.

Thinking outside of the box

The classic statement that every creative person will at least hear thrice a day. I don't know about you, but I love boxes. When people ask me, we need to think differently, how can we achieve this? Although Green Field Studies might be useful for some but the real problem is, that we usually do not have the freedom to do what we want, we have to think about all the restrictions around us to figure out a creative way. The moments where I'm most creative is under a lot of restrictions. I think you could call it some kind of "MacGyver Syndrome". When you are in a situation that leaves you not many options, you tend to become immensely creative with given resources. So when you are sitting in a box and need to figure out a problem, you might just use the box itself for the solution!

A white canvas is a good friend

Most ideas start with a blank page. I love to make the first move and spark the creative process of the people around me. Through collaboration you can get so much more done and people can improve on the initial idea - it's great. Don't be afraid to take the first step, someone needs to push an idea out to get something started. By taking the lead, you'll have it easier to contribute. 

It might depend on your creative type, but having some sort of creative energy supply through a certain medium, be it music, posters or colors, is great. The danger is always, does it push you in a certain direction? This would be a kind of pseudo-creativity. I used to have this when I was writing songs in a certain genre. I would listen to certain bands to get the vibe - the problem was that I was somehow copying their style and not being creative. So watch out for that, since the same might happen for a Marketing campaign that you just might rip-off somebody else.

Get away from the problem

The best way to solve a problem, is to not think about the problem. Did you ever had that "EUREKA!" moment under the shower or on the go? The brain is a fancy tool that can be very productive when in standby, meaning that it will work on problems, even if you are not consciously thinking about them. The best recommendation I can give: Take a walk. 

Sometimes I'd like to say "let me think about that", but not in a 2-minute way. To really think about an idea or problem (depending on how urgent it really is) I'd recommend you'd take at least three days - in Germany we have this saying:"going pregnant with an idea" and I adore this expression. It means you will take the time needed to really think about the problem or the solution from every possible angle. 

When your opinion is the same for three days, that is your answer. If it changes from day to day, you might seek some more input or discussions with colleagues. But usually, thinking takes time. 

The gut feeling

There are times when you just know something is right or wrong. People can't always describe the process but some might just say, that they just feel it. The gut feeling is famous for being a key ingredient for entrepeneurs and fast decision making. I can't really say if this is something you just rely on within a creative context - generally I'd say that if you have a very creative and successful man/woman in your team - I think it's most of the time a wild card, in this context. 

What are the habbits you would use in a creative environment. Feel free to share it in the comments below.

In the second part I will take a tour through the typical process from having the initial idea, developing a plan and finally execution.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Sebastian