What comes to mind is Wayson Choy and the story he tells about a workshop led by Carol Shields and how the participants each had to pick a slip of coloured paper from a hat and write about it. His was pink and he asked if he could switch and Shields said no. But pink means nothing to me, he said, and she said just write and he did and what happened was that pink took him to places he hadn’t thought about before, his childhood and other things he’d forgotten. Turned out he couldn’t stop writing and pretty soon he realized he had something—possibly a book. He said he believes The Jade Peony would never have been written had he been allowed to choose another colour.