I came across this comic image a while back. It is about drawing an owl – a step-by-step guide.
I will include it here so that you can learn too :
But … this image is actually quite profound. The ‘guideline’ in doing some job, shouldn’t extend to the detail and the specifics of the job (micromanagement), otherwise it will kill creativity and any possibility of the job actually being unique and different.
We don’t really need someone to tell us – in detail – how to do something. (and not only because it is annoying)
To be creative we need some structure. Complete chaos and no guidelines at all can be problematic. Within that structure, however, we need a lot of personal space. The space helps accommodate the variability needed to truly create something different and unique.
If you were McDonald’s (or some factory), and you wanted all the owls on all the drawings to look exactly the same, then by all means, provide an exact and detailed guide… It is more likely, however, that you’re not McDonald’s.
The detailed guide is great if the main concern is avoiding mistakes.. If the risk of unpredictability is really high.
For other situations… Creativity loves space !
This is why the best guides in the world have to be somehow incomplete… At some point (beyond the basic level), they should be approximate and ambiguous.
Draw your own owl… (many times).
Here are a couple of other guides…
For a narrative/story exploration of some of these themes on creativity, individuality, and incompleteness, check out the Stories page.