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  • Newton came up with the theory of calculus in quarantine.

  • But out of limitations comes creativity.

  • Dr Seuss wrote using no more than 50 different words.

  • Not in a house. Not with a mouse.

  • Shakespeare wrote King Lear in quarantine.

  • Necessity is the mother of invention.

  • I love that.

  • It's a nice myth to think of creativity

  • as an endless open field of possibilities.

  • But the reality is, when people face such a wonderful open field

  • they might become paralysed.

  • The growth of the human brain is by growing branches.

  • By growing branches you can make more connections

  • and it's by having connections that you can say "aha".

  • Now there's an interesting issue

  • over whether constraints are actually beneficial

  • or problematic for creativity.

  • And I think the answer to both is yes,

  • both cases happen to be the case.

  • There's still disagreement, at least in psychology,

  • about what creativity really is.

  • It's people making things that haven't existed before.

  • Everyday elements but putting them together in a way

  • not that is just novel but that actually has a meaning for people,

  • that actually changes the way they see the world.

  • Most people tend to think that

  • creativity is something that happens to people

  • who have a particular talent.

  • There is no such thing as a single gene for creativity.

  • We can distinguish between two different types of constraints -

  • the intentional constraints and the unintentional constraints.

  • These external forces of limitation

  • and they can be political, socio-economic.

  • Being a biracial, black, female artist

  • coming from a working-class background

  • could be seen as a limitation within the art world,

  • which historically has been a very patriarchal,

  • white, middle-class space.

  • Resilience comes when you have problems and challenges

  • and that in turn gives you ideas.

  • An artist who I very much admire, called Faith Ringgold,

  • wanted to make these huge, huge canvases,

  • in the same way that a lot of men

  • were making huge modernist works of art.

  • But she didn't actually have the space at home to do that.

  • And so she started to make these huge quilts -

  • roll it up and take it to various galleries.

  • She's a great example of how an artist can flourish under limitation.

  • Avoid familiarity and embrace novelty.

  • Be it using different materials

  • or a different method or a different process.

  • If you always write poetry, try prose.

  • Schedule a particular time

  • when you are going to do nothing else but engage in the creative task.

  • And that's one of the ways in which

  • people with very little time can write books -

  • by telling everybody in your family

  • that that's what you're going to be doing

  • you're actually protecting a space for yourself,

  • for something creative to happen.

  • Start drawing and give yourself five minutes.

  • Do another drawing, give yourself 10 seconds to do the drawing.

  • When we are given less time to do something,

  • usually the most important information comes across.

  • If you're playing in a band and you're getting really, really stuck,

  • swap instruments.

  • That can create new ideas in your songs as well.

  • Or paint a red dot or a blue line

  • in the upper left corner of your blank canvas

  • and then challenge yourself to incorporate those constraints

  • into the composition.

  • And even though you may not end up using those particular constraints

  • in the final product, they can be beneficial for creativity

  • as long as you play around with them willingly.

  • What might happen is that the mere experience

  • with playing around with different limitations

  • stretches your imagination and improves creativity.

Newton came up with the theory of calculus in quarantine.

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How limits can boost your creativity | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/09/10
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