Give me constraints, give me creativity

Photo Credit: jeschnotes Flickr via Compfight cc


If someone challenged you to write a book using only 50 words, could you do it? How creative do you think you could be?  That’s just what Theodore Geisel did when his editor bet him that he couldn’t write a children’s book using just 50 words.

Can you guess which book was the result? None other than the epic ‘Green eggs and ham,’ authored by Theodore who’s better known as Dr. Seuss.

Catrinel Haught Tromp, a psychologist, has dubbed this the ‘Green eggs and ham’ hypothesis of  creativity. The idea is that being faced with boundaries or limits can result in more creative thinking not less.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about limits due to my recent elbow surgery. I’ve not been able to type or write for about three months now. While it certainly has been frustrating & has caused me to want to tear my hair out at times, it’s also been strangely illuminating.

Here are some things that I’ve discovered based on my recent constraints:

  1. Technology: I’m using tech in all new ways. Auto-dictation is a wonderful thing. In fact I’m dictating this post right now using an app called Dragon Dictation (while the desktop version is pricey, the app is free). I’d seen the little microphone at the bottom of my screen on my smartphone (another built-in type of automatic dictation) but I never knew how easy it could be to use it. I have my constraint to thank for that.

2. Sharing the love: I’ve taught so many people  how to use auto-dictation. It’s been fun to watch their eyebrows shoot up & hear their exclamations of glee at the ease & efficiency of it all.

3. Going beyond the obvious: I was using Siri quite a bit (the built in iPhone ‘intelligent assistant’) but my constraints of not being able to write has pushed me to find new ways to use her. Who knew that Siri could add? Now doing healthcare receipts each month is a snap when I just ask her to add up all the receipt totals. No more fussing with a calculator.


All in all I’m not at the point where I’m glad that I had to have surgery, but I am grateful for the new opportunities that my physical constraints brought about a la the Green eggs and ham’ hypothesis of  creativity.


How can you use constraints to amp up your creativity?

Specifically how can you:

1. Use technology to help you learn, get organized &/or communicate?

2. How can you share the love & spread your learning?

3. When you’re faced with a challenge, how can you go beyond the obvious solution & break out some creative thinking?


Let me know, I’d love to hear. I’m not going anywhere; while I’m waiting for my husband to help me put on some deodorant (which I’ve discovered definitely requires 2 hands), I’m getting a laugh or two from the mistakes that the  dictation sometimes makes. Who is speaking about Justin Bieber? Definitely not me, though that’s what the dictation software transcribed recently.


PS thanks so much to all you readers who have sent me kind notes with get well wishes. I appreciate each & everyone. You rock!


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