You’ve likely heard it said that necessity is the mother of invention. Well, if invention has a mom then it must have a dad, unless words are asexual, which seems unlikely. It appears that although invention inherits its genetic code for motivation from its mother, the DNA for creativity are passed down from its father, restriction. Yes, restriction had word-sex with necessity and impregnated her. Let’s find out how it happened.
Pretend for a moment that you work for the local paper, editing the sports section or something other useless topic. One day your boss pokes his head into your cell and asks, “Hey could you do me a favor real quick?”
“Ya, what is it?”, you reply with hesitation, knowing full well that you won’t want to do it, but that you’re going to end up doing it anyway.
“Bill’s got the flu, can you write the comic for tomorrow?”
You agree to it, and immediately brilliant works of comedic gold don’t come rushing into your brain.
After staring at your stapler for an hour, trying to imagine possibilities for characters, backdrops and punch lines, you conclude that you are not a creative person. What’s wrong? The necessity is there, but you can’t produce anything. Invention needs a father.
The problem is that you have no restriction. Without restriction the human mind has no aim, no focus. Thoughts are like a garden hose, you have to stick your thumb in it just right to get it to shoot properly. Wait, thoughts are more like a laser beam, they need to be refracted perfectly through a series of lenses.
Creative thought is like water. It pools in your brain, waiting to rush out when you think of a good idea. The problem is that the reservoir of thought in your brain doesn’t know which way to spill out. Restriction gives it a direction. Restricting your thoughts gives walls to a river of creativity that cannot be halted.
Back to our example. If you were told to write a story right now, you would likely sit in bland silence, possibly drooling, for two minutes and then quit. But if you were told that this story’s setting had to be a backyard garden, suddenly you are a bubbling fountain of ideas.
So if you’re ever stuck on a subject for your paper or a concept for your art, merely restrict your thought to a narrow, specific idea. Here are some examples to get you going: sewage, the zoo, a harp, Jack Nicholson, headphones, Siberia, a television remote, apprehension.
One thought to “The Father of Invention”
Ironically, a smelly zoo where Jack Nicholson is listening to harp music on a remote Siberian television show was exactly the kind of motivation I needed.