Thinking Inside the Box

 Image courtesy of  NPR

Image courtesy of NPR

Creativity is a fascinating thing. We talk about it a lot, and we’re always looking for ways to improve our own creative process. Our natural tendency is to try to eliminate any barriers to thinking creatively. While there’s nothing wrong with that, sometimes we confuse constraints with barriers and try to eliminate those as well. But eliminating constraints is not always a good thing, and it’s often the least productive thing you can do.

We’ve written about this idea before, the idea that constraints, whether self-imposed or otherwise, can be essential to delivering creative work. We recently came across an example of that principle in action - NPR Music’s Project Song

 Image courtesy of  NPR

Image courtesy of NPR

Project Song gives an artist 2 days to write and record an original song from scratch. That can be a pretty tough gig in and of itself. But wait, there’s more! The show provides a few more creative constraints beyond the time limit. They show the artist a series of images, and they pick one to use as the inspiration for the song. Then they show the artist a series of words, and the artist has to pick one as the central theme of the song.

This video shows how Moby and his collaborator, Kelli Scarr, used those constraints to fuel a creative musical explosion. Not only did they write and record their song in record time, they managed to record three different versions of it. It’s a fascinating process to watch, and there’s a lot to learn from their eagerness to just jump in and start creating within the box created by their constraints. Enjoy the behind the scenes look at the creation of “Gone to Sleep.”