Here’s a great talk by Marissa Mayer of Google on the importance of guidance in the creative process.
“Creativity loves constraint. And this sounds really counterintuitive, because when you think about creativity you think about, you know, oh, having a lot of freedom to do whatever you want. And I think that, you know, from my perspective what I see is that a lot of times when you constrain your thoughts, that’s when you ultimately see a lot of innovation happen. I have a good friend who’s a clockmaker in London. He did the millennium clock among other things. And when I asked him, “Why are you a clockmaker? Why not just be a sculptor and you can sculpt whatever you want?” His answer was that when he was in art class, as a student, he preferred to start on paper that had a mark on it already.
He just liked that constraint, because he said, “You know, I feel like if there’s a mark on a piece of paper, I can take that mark and in my imagination I can figure out what to turn it into, but a blank piece of paper is almost just too intimidating.”