My English teacher freaked me out.
“I want you all to write a story,” she said, “and it can be about anything you like.”
Anything? Anything at all?
It was madness. Where should I start? Where should I end? And what the hell should I write in between?
I spent 95% of the time figuring out what to do before scribbling some nonsense and handing it in.
This is the Infinity Problem. When you can do anything you like, what do you do?
Tomorrow I’m starting an evening job as a Visiting Lecturer in New Media at Regent’s College, a university in central London. So this weekend I’ve been finalising the module guide and lesson plans.
There are a million ideas and projects and books and articles and shows that relate to the topics we’re going to cover – a potential Infinity Problem.
So I’m very grateful for the course outline given to me by the guys who invented the course.
Creating something new is difficult if you have absolutely no constraints. If I wasn’t constrained by the course outline, it would be 10x harder to nail exactly what I’m going to teach.
So next time I’m sat in English class, I’m going to seek out constraints for myself. I could base my story on anything that offers an initial direction or limitation, even if it’s chosen at random.
A story about something that was in the news this morning.
A story about a recent family event.
A story about the top post in my Facebook feed.
I’m pretty sure that when you read those three suggestions, your brain started thinking of stories you could write.
Creativity is tough without constraints, but even artificial constraints make it a whole lot easier.