3 Self-Imposed Constraints to Boost Creativity

3 Self-Imposed Constraints to Boost Creativity

It’s ironic that in a world filled with readily available, endless information and resources, being creative is a constant–and sometimes, futile–struggle.

Why is it a struggle, you ask?

Because these information and resources drive us to pursue more.

More information: more details to uncover, learn, analyze. More resources: more materials to dig up, read, use.

And the more we pursue these resources and information, the less we produce creative and innovative outputs.

Not only does our creativity suffer, these overabundance of resources and information actually becomes counterproductive

What is the solution? How do we overcome this?

Believe it or not, embracing constraints or limitations on oneself benefits human creativity

“Creativity doesn't just love constraints; it thrives under them.”
David Burkus
Author & Keynote Speaker

Here are the 3 constraints writers (including me) should impose on themselves to boost creativity:

Time Constraint. Set yourself a time or a deadline.

Write a chapter in 30 minutes or less. 

Stop yourself from over-polishing an already finished book.

Are you familiar with these scenarios?

A writer sits down on her desk and starts to write. When she stops, she sees it’s been two hours and all she’s written are three sentences.

A writer finishes a book and is getting ready to pitch it or self-publish it. But then, he tells himself: “I just have to revise it one more time.” And then another, and another–until imposter syndrome sneaks in, when he thinks it’s crap and nothing he does isn’t cutting it or worth the effort; or until it’s never enough, it needs more revising and there’s more things to do, life happens,  and he shoves it in his drawer and forgets about it.

Without a deadline – forced or otherwise – you’ll be polishing your book until it becomes obsolete. The same is true with writing.

"Creativity thrives within constraints, because constraints give us the gift of focus."

Resource Constraint. Use only what’s immediately in front of you to create a minimum viable product.

Most times, the availability of a wealth of resources within our reach — hello, Google! — causes our creativity and productivity to suffer. 

How many internet articles do you have to search and read about the Mafia, or the FBI, or the correct spelling of a word, or synonym, or grammar, or an unknown planet in another galaxy, or features of a mythical creature?

More often than not, these searches branch out to more searches which are not connected with the original search you started. (Me guilty)

So, yes. Constraint yourself to a limited number of authentic resources and work around them.

Imposing constraints on oneself builds focus and enhances creativity, resulting in greater productivity.

– mayumi cruz

Impact Constraint. Focus on small successes rather than big victories. 

Start by solving a small problem and learn from it before taking on big ones.

For example, instead of writing a full novel in thirty days, focus on writing one chapter a day. Or set yourself a word count of 1000 words per day, instead of tackling a 50,000-word novel in one go.

What You Can Expect from Self-Imposed Constraints

Imposing constraints on oneself builds focus and enhances creativity, resulting in greater productivity.


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