I have a new answer up at Quora on exercises to become a better songwriter. Fortunately, I get to use my favorite quote from Stravinsky!
“The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution.”
As I say in the post:
It’s great for getting over writer’s block, or simply writing consistently.
So roll a dice three times and make those numbers the first three notes in the scale you sing.  Or take the first phrase of a children’s song backwards and turn that into it’s own melody. Or throw a dart at a guitar chord poster and force yourself to make whatever it lands on the third chord of your song…
Click through to see the entire answer and the accompanying video.
In Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, there was an interesting article about creativity. Here’s a quote:
While these [problem solvers] were close enough to understand the challenge, they weren’t so close that their knowledge held them back, causing them to run into the same stumbling blocks that held back their more expert peers.
It’s this ability to attack problems as a beginner, to let go of all preconceptions and fear of failure, that’s the key to creativity.
A lesson for us all to use our imaginations when solving problems! Yes, it sounds silly to say that so explicitly. But “preconceptions and fear of failure” keep us inside the box, and might just keep us from creating something beautiful or noteworthy.