is perhaps not all its cracked up to be. If you gave a child an entire roomful of toys, the child will probably not play with each toy, and will only use those he plays with in one or two ways, and only for a limited amount of time. Give that same child only one, seemingly uninteresting toy, and he will spend hours coming up with dozens of different ways to play with it. If you've ever seen a child with a box, you know what I mean. Being limited to only one toy forces the child to be creative. In the same way, if a writer begins a project with no direction, no parameters, no limitations, endless possibilities, she'll be overloaded. To cope with the overload, she is very likely to stick with something she knows, maybe reproducing a basic story outline she's already familiar with. She may come up with a few great ideas, a fabulous character or two, etc. But she's going to create limitations for herself that comfort her, and make her feel safe enough to explore in one or two areas.
On the other hand, if she begins by setting some guidelines for herself right from the start, she'll be forced to get all-kinds-of creative in order to stick within those parameters. For instance, if you were not allowed to use the letter 'p' in telling a story, you would have to find some pretty interesting ways to tell it. At the very least, you would have to be creative in your word usage.
I don't subscribe to the idea that if you follow steps A,B,C and D, you'll end up with a best selling novel and a million dollar movie deal. But neither do I believe that absolute, unrestricted freedom is as conducive to creativity as a few well-placed parameters. Of course, this is just a theory of mine.
Does anybody have any experiences with writing restrictions they'd be willing to share?