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The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work (And Why You Should Use It Too)

The Power of Constraints

Dr. Seuss discovered while writing his book "Green Eggs and Ham" the power of setting constraints.

Setting limits for yourself (time, money, words, etc.) often leads to better results than if you keep your options open.

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The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work (And Why You Should Use It Too)

The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work (And Why You Should Use It Too)

https://jamesclear.com/dr-seuss

jamesclear.com

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Key Ideas

The challenge

In 1960, Theo Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss, was challenged to write an entertaining children's book using only 50 different words. The result was the best-selling book, Green Eggs and Ham. It sold over 200 million copies.

The Power of Constraints

Dr. Seuss discovered while writing his book "Green Eggs and Ham" the power of setting constraints.

Setting limits for yourself (time, money, words, etc.) often leads to better results than if you keep your options open.

Constraints have benefits

  1. Limitations inspire you to find creative solutions. If you have a one-year-old child that requires all your time, you have to find creative ways to get some exercise.
  2. Constraints force you to get something done. Without constraints, we would postpone our tasks, sometimes indefinitely.

That is why professionals set a schedule for their production while amateurs wait for the perfect moment.

Constraints are Not the Enemy

We often complain about our limitations. "I don't have enough time." or "I don't have enough money." Every artist has a limited set of tools to create with. Every entrepreneur has limited resources to work with.

Constraints don't hamper you. Once you know your constraints, you can find out how to work with them.

Your limitations

  • You only have half an hour to exercise? That is your limitation. Put those 30 minutes to proper use.
  • Can you only spare 15 minutes each day to write? That is the size of your constraint. Your job is to make it a work of art.
  • You only have $100 to start your business? Great! Make each sales call work for you.

We can complain about our limits or use them. How you use that constraint is up to you.

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Past Deciding The Future

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But life is constant...

Learned Helplessness

This is a mental state where, as a result of a certain bad experience, we believe that we can’t do anything about a certain problem.

Negative Motivation

We can start to feel helpless when we see people fail in a certain plan, and this could start acting as a negative motivation in our minds.

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Creativity

The creative process is the act of making new connections between old ideas or recognizing relationships between concepts.

While being creative isn't easy, nearly all great ideas follow a sim...

The 5 Step Creative Process

  1. Gather new material directly related to your task as well as learning general material by becoming fascinated with a wide range of concepts.
  2. Thoroughly work over the materials in your mind.  Examine what you have learned by looking at the facts from different angles and experimenting with fitting various ideas together.
  3. Step away from the problem. Next, you put the problem completely out of your mind and go do something else that excites you and energizes you.
  4. Let your idea return to you. After you have stopped thinking about it, your idea will come back to you with a flash of insight and renewed energy.
  5. Shape and develop your idea based on feedback. For any idea to succeed, you must release it out into the world, submit it to criticism, and adapt it as needed.

Creativity is learned

Some people are primed to be more creative than others.

However, nearly every person is born with some level of creative skill and the majority of our creative thinking abilities are trainable.

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Constraints For Creativity

Constraints For Creativity

Limitations, constraints and deadlines, paradoxically help us unlock our latent creativity. They help us try the untested, take the risk and explore stuff we normally would not.

Cons...

Freedom From Paralysis

While too many constraints and rules are counterproductive, a balanced level of constraints helps creativity. Clearly stated constraints help us plan our scope of work and the amount of effort that has to be put.

Example: A pre-existing constraint with an employer of providing a two-page CV along with the cover letter help us draft the same with the limitations in mind.

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer

“Creativity is often misunderstood. People often think of it in terms of artistic work — unbridled, unguided effort that leads to beautiful effect. If you look deeper, however, you’ll find that some of the most inspiring art forms — haikus, sonatas, religious paintings — are fraught with constraints.”

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