Creative constraints

Hit and Miss #42

Hi there!

A hopefully happy Sunday to you. Mine has been quiet thus far; quiet seems to be the theme of my weekend. I’ve been puttering about the apartment, indulging in the domestic.

Quiet, routine activities have dominated my time outside of work lately. For a time, I’ve struggled to muster much energy to do things on my own, other than walking and visiting with friends. The thought of consciously doing something has appealed to me, but I haven’t been able to find the right activity yet. That said, some friends and I have been discussing a collaborative project, which I think might do the trick.

When faced with similar situations before, I’ve looked for ways to inspire creativity by limiting it. An empty canvas offers too many possibilities; a canvas with some rules around it gives you a chance to think. Earlier this week I prepared a set of constraints and questions that could help guide a project:

  • What’s the smallest chunk of work that you could consider “done”? (this helps provide a constant sense of accomplishment)
  • What’s the timeframe of the project? (a day, a week, a month?)
  • What structure or rhythm will guide your work?
  • How often will you share your work, if ever? (accountability!)
  • What skills do you want to develop?
  • In what medium will you work?
  • What’s the nature of your work? (a tool, a statement, etc?)
  • Who’s the audience of your work?
  • What arbitrary limits can you impose? (examples: no internet, maximum of 100 words, made without talking, etc.)

This is a set of constraints to which I return relatively often—I find them generic enough for most any project. What kind of constraints do you like to set for your work?

All the best for the week ahead!