There are benefits associated with operating within constraints. Exams and assignments usually have time and length limits and there are specific questions asked, so preparing for this by familiarizing oneself with constraints can be useful.
Debates require preparation: conducting research, construction of an argument, proving the points one makes, and the old debating dictum “tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em (introduction); tell 'em point by point (body of the work); tell 'em what you've told 'em (conclusion) provides a restriction that enables appropriate preparation – all done withing certain time limits. There are rules, processes and constraints associated with debating, thus developing a skill through an extracurricular activity that has direct academic benefit.
With regards to writing, the issue becomes whether quality and/or quantity are important for a specific task. Publisher Bennett Cerf bet Theodor Seuss Geisel—known as Dr. Seuss—that he couldn't write a book using 50 words or less. The result was Seuss' now famous book, Green Eggs and Ham. Ernest Hemingway was also very creative when he agreed to the constraint of writing a story in six words. He did so, and since then, using six words has become a useful constraint for anyone wanting to promote creativity, provide a brief summary of an activity or writing task.
Advertisers sometimes create constraints that enhance creativity. Pierre Soulages, the French artist who used only black paint in a Parisian exhibition, used texture to create variation and interest within the collection. The famous Bloomsbury Group novelist, poet, diarist, letter writer and gardener, Vita Sackville-West, together with her husband, Sir Harold Nicholson, created the famous white garden at their home, Sissinghurst Castle, in Kent.
Tony Buzan's mind mapping 'laws' and Edward de Bono's variously coloured 'thinking hats' that require individuals to think in a certain way, constrain the type of thinking or organisation of one's thoughts, to provide the optimum cognition before recording information. Although these devices appear to provide constraints, they each promote creativity by promoting thinking while constraining the individual.
Financial constraints & having limited ingredients available to make dinner for the family prompt creative problem solving. Our children have often been treated to a meal – concocted from limited ingredients – that was referred to as my 'Ooo La La'.
Constraint makes individuals think as it is not easy to create or problem solve within restrictions – whatever form those restrictions might take. Whether it is the constraint of time, length, colour or quantity, constraint requires the individual to focus intensely, to utilise the constraining factors and provides freedom within limits – which helps to increase cognitive creativity,
© Michele Juratowitch