Sometimes creative constraints encourage innovation and enhance joy in the process.
“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. …
It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love
begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.”
~ Mary Oliver, “Don’t Hesitate”
(appears in The Poetry Pharmacy Returns: More Prescriptions for Healing,
Courage, and Hope)
James Corden, host of The Late Late Show with James Corden, stood on a Brooklyn street next to a grinning Harry Styles and stared into the camera. In quick order, James defined the creative constraints of how they were going to make the video for the latest release from the Harry’s House album, “Daylight:”
“We have 3 hours, $300 to shoot a music video for a song on Harry’s new album. Now, we have no locations, we don’t know what we’re doing, we don’t know where we’re shooting it, but we’re gonna give it our best try….”
A Scrappy Creative Journey
Immediately, we are all on the edge of our seats, leaning in. We know what we are about to witness is going to be enormously fun, spontaneous, and creative. In an age of high-budget, overly-produced, and slick video content, we were going to be treated to a behind-the-scenes, scrappy, creative journey.
The video (which shows the making of the video as well as the final product) is a 17-minute, joyful romp. Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself to be a Harry Styles fan, you cannot watch this video and remain unaffected. It is a masterclass in how to embody with authenticity the emotions you want to transmit to your audience through your creativity.
Have a look.
James and Harry set out on this project with many variables left undefined. It is the tension of stepping into the unknown with the unusual constraints on time and budget that power this project forward. We witness James making rapid-fire choices and decisions to get the shots he wants and moving quickly to advance through each scene.
James isn’t overthinking or fussing over details. He is not bogged down in analysis paralysis or fretting over obtaining perfection. He has a vision for what he wants to capture and goes about bottling it. He astutely knows the power of his subject, Harry, and that it is Harry’s joie de vivre that will translate through the lens and land.
The Constraint of Joy
Of all the creative constraints in the project, having fun via a joy-filled escapade tops the list. James easily falls into being silly and knows that the more he dials up his antics, the more Harry will answer with his own.
Our creativity behaves in the same way.
What are you working on right now that feels as if it has gotten too unwieldy, complicated, and/or stuck in a quagmire? Where are you overthinking, making details precious? Where are you letting progress stall out because you are too wrapped up in knowing every step of the journey?
Finding Creative Constraints
Can you find some creative constraints to funnel your project into ease and flow? What limits can you place on yourself that ignite momentum and possibility thinking while catapulting you over all obstacles (especially those coming from your own mind)?
And how about we decide that having fun and adopting an all-joy approach is our lead constraint?
It is easy to sort and filter choices and next moves when we determine if they rise to the level of what is a fun Hell Yes for us or not. We can let ourselves experiment, ideate freely, and not judge early efforts harshly.
We find such a process thrilling and tap into a goldmine of intuition.
We fly, powered by our willingness to be unscripted, straight into the hearts of those we most want to reach.