Limiting options can be a spur to creativity

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In my spheres of creativity, we think wrongly. Our assumption is that the more options we have open to us, the better the chance of us creating something interesting.

But I’d argue that limited options can be a spur towards greater creativity. Granted, the lack of options can sometimes be overly restrictive: I suspect the cave painters of Lascaux would have done some interesting work with a canvas and oils, or even a full set of pastels and a cave wall. [Although the 600 or so paintings, dating back 17 000 years, are pretty stunning…]

Often, though, restrictions are anything but limiting when it comes to art – or even to wine.

Think of photography. Working in black and white – giving up all those colours – can actually open up the creative process. As a photographer you see the world differently when colour isn’t involved.

Or the theatre. Compared with the modern filmmakers’ toolkit, including all the CGI, having a few people on stage with a simple set seems like the sort of restriction that would be stifling. Yet plays are often intensely compelling. Of course, they are different to films, but the shared quality is that of writing a play and acting it, and so they can – at this level – be compared.

And then there’s radio. And novels. Giving up vision, which is so important to us humans, would seem to doom these two media. Surely, visual storytelling would win every time? It doesn’t.

With wine, technology now exists that opens up a world of possibilities for winemakers. If something is wrong, it can be corrected – and that is a good thing, depending of course on the definition of ‘wrong’. Stylistically, the modern viticultural and winemaking toolkit opens up a host of possibilities.

Those who choose to work traditionally, politely declining the winemaking bag of tricks on offer, might seem to be disadvantaged. In truth, they are making some of the most beautiful and compelling wines out there, which speak articulately of their origins.

Yes, limited options really can be a spur to creativity.

Reminder: this blog is irregularly updated, but there are daily updates on the main wineanorak site.

wine journalist and flavour obsessive

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