by Alastair / in Creativity

What started out as 26 writers paired up with a Nick Drake song has grown into each of us recording an audio version of our work. My song was “From the Morning”.  This is a project which has taught me so much, not least about the magnificent Nick Drake but also the nature of confidence and the importance of acknowledgement.


Under a Northern Sky is also a terrific example of how liberating ‘creative constraints’ can be. In the case of ‘Under a Northern Sky’ each writer was given a Nick Drake song, a station on the Newcastle to Glasgow train line and a time limit (3’44” – I broke this one!)

Rather than being restrictive, these rules give artists a starting point from which to create something special.

If you think creativity starts with a blank canvas, the process can feel daunting. In reality, artists work through stages of research, planning and development and this process is easier to navigate with clearly defined rules. Artists will then stretch, test and tease those limits and it’s those tensions which ignite the best ideas.

Within a business, giving people ‘creative constraints’ can ignite innovation. One of the most famous examples are ‘FedEx’ days, where groups have given 24 hours to deliver a new idea.

"If songs were lines / in a conversation / the situation would be fine"

― Nick Drake (lyrics from Hazy Jane II)

Creativity, Expression, Constraints

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