If you’re looking to boost your creativity, then the last thing you might consider is a creative rule system.
Stop shuddering at the back there.
Rules don’t inhibit creativity. In fact, you could argue that they promote creativity.
Let me give you an example.
For a few years, I wrote stories to post on my blog every Friday. It was part of the Friday Flash community.
The rules? The stories must be 1000 words or less, and be a self-contained story that is shared with others.
You commented on the flashes of others, and they commented on yours.
Sure, we all sometimes bent the rules to turn a single flash into the start of a serial, but all subsequent episodes still fell within the 1000 word limit.
A word limit forces you to prune your writing.
You can only include what is absolutely necessary to tell the story.
You can use it as a playground to explore ideas that you’ll later flesh out through short stories or novels. By learning how to prune, you’re teaching yourself out to write more tightly, and even edit your own work. Neat, eh?
Can you use a creative rule system if you’re an artist?
Of course you can! Say you want to start a project where every aspect can only be coloured using cyan, magenta, yellow or black.
It forces you to think more creatively about what you can or can’t include, which will strengthen the final pieces.
So you want to do something green or orange? Set up a separate project for that!
In 2015 I imposed a creative rule on myself to create one new drawing every day, and while I didn’t always manage it, I gave it a bloody good go. The benefits are;
- I use it as a way to try out a new technique or medium,
- If it doesn’t work out, it’s alright because I haven’t spent a lot of time on it,
- I can start to develop my own style by learning what works and what doesn’t work.
How about photography?
Works for that too.
The best way to do it is to take a new photograph every day for a week, or a month.
I did the #imageaday challenge in 2013 and it forced me to take photos of unusual things I might not otherwise have shot.
Why not make yourself take a photograph of wherever you are at 8:30am every Thursday? (Actually, I might try that)
The more you use your creativity, the easier it gets.
Creativity is like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the easier it becomes to use it.
I certainly want to impose a new creative rule to write something every day.
I have lots of commitments but I can easily squeeze in 100-250 words every day – anything more is a bonus.
So it doesn’t matter if it’s on an existing project, or just a vignette. I want to fill my notebook with creative writing every day.
Where can I find out more?
If you’re interested in rule systems and how they can help creativity, check out this video by Kate Bingaman Burt on automated directives and creative rule systems!
A lot of what she says applies to photography or illustration, but you could easily substitute those for blog posts, writing, knitting, or any other creative endeavour!
Over to you! Would you use a creative rule system?
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