Anne of Green Gables: Imagination II

“There is one consolation when you are poor—there are so many more things you can imagine about.”

p. 281

This touches on more than just tangible poverty. It is an example of the relationship between creativity and constraint. The uninitiated to the power of constant to foster creativity desires no constraint as he believes constraint stifles the creative being inside that surely will gush brilliance all over. 

Yet it is the limitations—the fourteen line sonnet, for example—that foster the creativity we so long for. Constraint forces us to move beyond our first impulses. Those first impulses may have a spark of the creative but they are not yet mature. They need honing to be brought to fruition. 

It is constrained creativity that moves toward genius as opposed to just being different. When we are free to drive through the pasture, we may well enjoy the donuts and rut making, but we find we have not really arrived at a destination—however much fun we may have had—and in the process, we’ve limited production later on through our merry made ruts which inhibit nice neat rows.

Anne is correct: limitations foster creativity. The wooden block should be a pre-requisite Christmas present to the young boy before he is allowed access to the rows upon rows at the toy store. Those rows may heighten his gimme reflex, but they will stifle his creativity. 

This, of course, is also the case with writing. Form is essential to clear communication. And form, whether we like it or not is essential to story. If there is no conflict, for example, there is no story. And it is that conflict of working through the limitations to birth something creative that will prove, in the end, to be creative. Or as Lewis says, “No man who bothers about originality will ever be original.”

Do not fear limitations or fret over them. But also do not fear the hard work that will then be required to be creative in the midst of constraint. 

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