Years ago, I got some good advice on creativity and comedy from a magician and sword swallower Lynx Kim.
Years later, I read the same advice in a book about Cirque Du Soleil called “Cirque Du Soleil: The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire That Lives Within Us All”
The advice was this…
It’s very difficult to come up with something from nothing. Restrictions actually make it easier to be creative.
To illustrate my point, try a little thought experiment right now with me. Ready? You have 30 seconds to think of something original and creative. Go!
(30 seconds later)
How did you do?
Most people probably won’t do so well. And that fine, because it’s hard. But I’ll give you a chance to redeem yourself. Ready?
You have 30 seconds to think of something original and creative with the objects that you see around you right now and bananas. Go!
(30 seconds later)
I’m pretty confident that most of you did much better the second time.
Even though the second time, I gave you restrictions!
It may seem counter-intuitive. You would probably think that the less restrictions that you have, the more creative freedom you would have.
But that just isn’t the way creativity works.
Magicians use this technique all the time.
“I must create an original piece of magic…” or “I must make a piece of magic for the stage involving confetti and balloons for college students”
Try it for yourself. The next time you have to create something, give yourself some sort of parameter. Probably best if it’s a practical parameter, but you can choose something at random. I’ve used the dictionary, I’ve also used an online random list generator.
Similar advice I’ve heard from writers… when you’re stuck, just do something! Anything. It doesn’t have to be great or even good, just has to be something. Once you have something, you can improve that something and make it good or even great. But if you wait for the perfect something to come to you on your very first try… you’ll be waiting a very long time.
The next piece of classic magician advice…
Make the magic yours!