“Write a story.”
“Write a horror story.”
“Write about a scary experience that you remember for life.”
“Write about a scary and embarrassing story that you have encountered with your friends.”
The five prompts above are the catalyst to kick start your engines to compose something of your own words. But, which one would you probably choose to write. You will choose to write the fifth one if you are an amateur; you will choose the fourth one if you are a wise writer; you will choose the third one if you are a professional writer; you will choose the second one if you already have something in your mind; you will choose the first one if you intend to compose poems.
What if you are at the worst of your writer’s block, and this story ought to be submitted to someone important the next day, what would you choose? For me, I would go for the fourth one, perhaps some of you might choose the fifth one, but the third one would be close to impossible, same goes to the second and the first one.
Writing the fourth one would produce a better result compared to the other choices given the situation above because of the phenomena called- ‘limiting creativity’. Imagine, if you were given a boat and to sail into the sea without given any instructions, and in another situation you are given instructions on where to head to, which situation would be more favourable? Definitely the second one. Applying the similar analogy to this five choices. The first three are akin to be sailing aimlessly into the vast ocean, the fourth one gives you a clear direction but does not show you how to accomplish it, the fifth one is spoon-feeding and constricting the frame of imagination into a perpetual box.
You might argue, the fifth one’s work would be better paced compared to the fourth one’s. Yes, the probability is there, but given the situation above, the writer’s block conundrum, the fourth one would rev up the writer’s engine inside you, but the fifth one is just a small kick to your writings. If you were given an array of colours to produce an art in a workshop, but you were told that you were only allowed to use the colours given only. In the other case, you were told that you can use anything that you can find in the workshop asides from the colours given to produce an art. The second case would culminate into a more creative and more outstanding result than the first case if and only if the person is creative enough.
Before proceeding, I have to make some assumptions: first, the definition of creative, is to produce something that is unthinkable; second, outstanding means not only the content is a ‘wow’ factor, but also the writing skill is powerful enough to immerse you into a great reading experience, and also taking into consideration the whole of your creation; thirdly, if you are a haiku or poem writer, a very prolific one, everything rhymes inside your world, even when you lift up your pen to write, it would be some sort of creative writing, then I need to exclude you first, because I am talking about composing stories at the moment.
Things are more well defined, we need to proceed back to the previous statement. Why does the fourth’s work is better than the fifth’s work overall? Darting back to the painting analogy that I have used, apply it to the fifth one to the art created by more constrictions, and the fourth one to the art with constrictions, but not too excessive. The fifth one, I would call it as ‘over-limiting creativity’, and that is bad, for the writer’s mind. When you ‘over-limit’ or ‘over-constrict’ one’s thought to branch out, the result would appear desirable to the readers, but for the writer’s, I surmise not. It is because the words (limitations) that appear in the fifth one are ‘scary’, ’embarrassing’, ‘friends’, ‘story’, and the tenses used is going to be the past because of the word ‘encountered’. In comparison to the fourth one the words that are in the sentence are ‘scary’, ‘remember for life’, ‘story’. When our brain is fed with more constrictions, it will tend to be lazy, and assumes that the given amount of limitations (5)- which is quite a lot, is ample to write a creative and outstanding piece of story. However, if we were given the suitable amount of prompts (3), it will give us more space to widen our scope of thinking of the story, maybe can add a little ‘thriller’ or ‘sci-fi’ or ‘gore’ or more things into it to make our story less mundane and more outstanding.
Let us bring in the best case scenario, everything is on set, you have a really clear mind, and a really good grasp of what you want to offer to your readers. Then, the third one would be a better choice, because the direction given is clearer compared to the second one, or the first one. Too much freedom in writing is synonymous to a world without the laws of Physics governing it, or a country without law and order, it will be helter-skelter, unfettered, wild. Some writers could write really brilliantly by choosing one or two, but I am referring to the classes below really brilliant writers, we simply are not gifted to do so, even with an abundance of training, hardwork plus experience could never trump hardwork plus experience plus talent. They are the exceptional case, same goes to the creative-writers that I have mentioned above, they are simply, purely gifted because we live in an unfair world.
Limiting certain aspects of writing is just like playing a football match with standard rules; letting everything or most of the limitations to be not set in writing would just be a slug-fest in a football match where everyone will bash each other to get the ball into the goal with no rules. Limitations are set to bring the betterment out of you, not to constrict your ability. Try writing with limitations, such as limiting the word count- a fairly simple to say but difficult to execute task, but not the content, to a given number of words, for example- 100, it would be challenging, but once you get the hang of it, you might weave magic into your writings unknowingly, and learning to curb of unnecessary words in your writings, and replacing it with new vocabularies from time to time.
What would you choose to write? Comment down below!