Empowering Constraints

March 6, 2013

When presented with the word “constraint”, I often form a nasty image in my mind. An image of something that restricts freedom and curbs creative expression. Is this image always truly nasty, though?

A truth that struck me recently is that constraints are one of the key factors in creating a good, even marvelous, experience.

Take iA Writer, the piece of software this was written on. It constrains a user by offering only one font, automatically determines the type size, and offers absolutely no customization of the layout. It’s marvelous because it perfectly facilitates the one thing it’s intended for: to write.

Creative Mornings is a group of fantastic creative gatherings happening monthly in major cities around the world. Each gathering is structured the same way; starting at 9AM there is a 20 minute presentation, 20 minutes of discussion, 20 minutes of breakfast, then everyone is off for work. Another example of constraints that provide a positive experience.

And now a personal example. When choosing tile for a home project a while back, my Mom was presented with less than 20 color choices. The builder informed her that there were thousands of other options available, but he made only a small, well-rounded selection available to preserve her sanity. Yet another example of a good constraint.

Takeaway: There are empowering constraints all around us, and they play a significant role in improving our experience with anything. It’s up to us as Creatives and Creators to implement and encourage these empowering constraints.

5 thoughts on “Empowering Constraints

  1. A great reminder and I really like the title of your post. When I hear the word “constraint” I often form the same nasty image. :)

    Your words made me think of the many “constraints” our parents place upon us to help us grow to be responsible adults, and better servants of our God. Our gracious Lord also places “constraints” upon us, in order that we would sin less and glorify Him more. Thanks for the encouragement, Wesley!

  2. Twitter seems to be one of those kinds of constraints. Can’t give worthless info on Twitter like you can on Facebook because there’s only enough room to put the important stuff in your post. If I feel like getting random, constructive info, I like to scroll through my newsfeed on Twitter rather than on Facebook.

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