As children we grew up hating curfew, as adolescence we rebelled against the drinking age, and as adults we shake our fists at stop lights and speed limits. What we don’t realize is rules set us free.
I came across this simple notion in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060920432/). By having laws and rules we free ourselves from contemplating things that have already been determined. This provides a framework for thought which is valuable when applied to design.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to be original? Thinking up a completely new idea from scratch is extremely daunting. So don’t. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel and start improving it. Don’t be afraid to embrace the basic properties and laws of something with the determination of making it better. This at least gets you in gear and you’ll be surprised what original ideas will sprout up once the wheels are moving. It’s better to be producing than deadlocked on what to produce.